Super Bowl Ratings Down in one of the Greatest Games Ever

The Business of Sports

By: Joseph James Francis

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

As I watched in disgust, the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles produced one of the greatest football games in NFL history this past Sunday for Super Bowl 52. I say disgust because like much of the general football loving public I have had about enough of the Patriots and their endless string of victories. Unlike much of the football-loving public, I did not jump on the Eagles bandwagon as watching them win their first Super Bowl was not at all what this Dallas Cowboy’s fan wanted to see. Sadly, there are no ties in the playoffs, so I was going to be disappointed no matter what outcome. I watched what turned out to be a very exciting, nail-biting, dramatic, gem of a football game that had me on the edge of my seat. I was glued to the TV as Nick Foles and Tom Brady dissected each others’ defenses with surgical precision. The real question about the game was: Where was everyone else? This game was watched by fewer people than each of the last 8 Super Bowls and even the Series finale of MASH. So, what’s the deal? I have my theories.


1)      The Usual Suspects

I already mentioned why I dislike the Patriots and it’s not because I actually don’t like them. It is because I am sick of watching the same team win over and over again. While someone like Skip Bayless might state that Tom Brady is on the level of Michael Jeffrey Jordon when it comes to greatness, he certainly isn’t on the level of Jordon when it comes to popularity. Everyone loved Jordan and people tuned in to watch him because they knew something magical might happen when he touched the court. With Brady it is the same ho-hum storyline each time, last year’s Super Bowl notwithstanding. The world might be getting slightly tired of seeing the same boring team in the Big Game every year. I know I am. This is probably why Brady’s return to glory against the Seahawks in 2015 was the most watched game in Super Bowl History. Even last years magical comeback ranked 5th on the list. This whole season we knew it was the NFC versus the Patriots in the Super Bowl and that doesn’t bode well for ratings.

2)      No intriguing storyline

I know I am going to catch some flack for this one, but to me, there was no real intriguing storyline for this year's Super Bowl. You might say well what about Tom Brady winning his 6th ring, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most ever? See point one for my rebuttal to that. How about the city of Philadelphia possibly winning their first Super Bowl. Let’s all be honest here, outside of the tri-state area no one likes the Eagles. In fact, they are one of the most disliked teams in the league. The Sportster rated them the eighth most hated team in the league in 2015. If they weren’t playing the most hated team, the Patriots, would anyone want them to win? Doubtful. Even the amazing story of backup quarterback Nick Foles trying to lead his team against the goliath Patriots wasn’t enough to get more viewers. For casual fans, there was not much to draw you into the game, besides Justin Timberlake.

3)      No major fanbases

The most popular teams in the NFL are as follows:

The Dallas Cowboys

The New England Patriots

The Green Bay Packers

The New York Giants

The Pittsburgh Steelers

I already mentioned the Patriots fatigue that has gripped North America. Not having an NFC team that is extremely popular hurt the NFL’s ratings for this game. The Eagles have no big stars, an unknown coach, a history of losing football, and a fanbase that resides within their territorial limits. The larger fanbases of the league can draw more part-time viewers. If a Cowboys-Steelers Super Bowl ever occurred again, you better believe it would crush previous rating totals. The city of Boston and Philadelphia are relatively small compared to the hubs of New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles in terms of greater metropolitan area. Philadelphia also contends greatly for viewership and fans with both the New York Giants and the New York Jets. I believe that having them in the Super Bowl was a knock for ratings unquestionably.

There are also some other factors that may have contributed to the decline in ratings. The league has seen a decline in viewers over the past few years in general, which could translate into less Super Bowl viewers. The drama of player-protests during the national anthem may have caused some to tune out. Also, the violence of the game is becoming a point of concern for some viewers and they might be deciding to not partake in the one game they watch all year. Either way, I do not foresee TV ratings for the Super Bowl increasing unless the league implements a strategy like the NBA, where player personalities take the forefront rather than team loyalty. That would require Roger Goodell to loosen the reigns a bit and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Until then, I will watch and hope for my team to make it back.

Joseph James Francis is a Financial Advisor, Money Coach, and Blogger. He can be reached at:

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