On Feb. 7 this year, two of the best teams for the National Football Conference and American Football Conference respectively played the Super Bowl under conditions unprecedented in its 52-year history.
The Super Bowl attracts millions of viewers less for the game and more for the experience and the ads in what remains media’s greatest marketing showcase, with advertisers paying roughly $5.5 million for each 30-second spot.
The annual championship of the National Football League culminated in the first week of February with 91.6 million viewers who tuned in to their TVs to watch, making it the lowest number of viewers for the Super Bowl since 2007 which sat at 93.2 million viewers on television.
Many have attributed the poor ratings to the lack of a competitive game which almost always draws in greater views.
A straightforward game like the one we saw between The National Football Conference champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the American Football Conference champion Kansas City Chiefs failed to captivate audiences with mystery and unpredictability the way past games have. This was visible in the result of the game, a shocking 31–9 win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This year’s game started with a note to the audiences delivered by the NFL. The public-service announcement was regarding the NFL’s financial commitment to a campaign against systemic racism. Despite the NFL’s well meaning attempt at addressing America’s recent reckoning with its racist history, the organization’s failure to make any reference to Colin Kaepernick- the civil rights activist and football quarterback- felt like an oversight to many.
In what can be considered a lowlight of the game, Kansas City, despite entering the game perfectly capable of winning, undid their prospects of winning because of their offensive oversights and significant penalties.
In what was a rather anticlimactic game for the Chiefs, led by Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs failed to score a touchdown despite their frantic efforts and lost by double-digits, making them also the third Super Bowl team to not score a touchdown. Not just that, but by the end of the four hours, the Chiefs had committed 11 penalties, including a record eight penalties in the first half.
On a brighter note, for the Buccaneers, their victory set their name in history by making them the only other team (with the Baltimore Ravens) to be undefeated in multiple Super Bowls.
Veteran quarterback Tom Brady was awarded his record fifth MVP also making him the oldest player to receive the honor.
“This was the first time I ever watched the Super Bowl because this is my first year in the United States. As an Indian, I’ve only known of the Super Bowl from American TV shows,” said Aditya Shankar (’24). To be here, live the passion people have for the game and watch it firsthand made me feel as though I am part of a cultural moment unique to this country. It was a very interesting game to watch, at least for a Super Bowl rookie like me, but the disappointment in the eyes of my peers was visible. It’s an incredibly unique game with a lot of moving parts and it takes a while to understand, but once I took notes of the basics, I knew I’d be joining the madness yet again next year”, he continued.
Despite the ups and downs of this Super Bowl season and the unprecedented conditions of a global pandemic under which the game was played, Super Bowl will be back in February of next year to capture the hearts and minds of millions of Americans once again and perhaps provide to its audiences a more dynamic game that will soar ratings like the past.