The Super Bowl is bigger than football. It causes non-fans to get swept up in the party surrounding it and the big-budget, celebrity-studded spectacle we’ve all come to expect from its advertisements. But at over $5 million per 30 seconds, even a slight change in viewership or viewing behavior can have a huge impact.
It’s no secret that NFL viewership during the regular season has experienced a nearly 10 percent decline — the second consecutive ratings drop. Whether or not that marks a true turning point in the sport’s popularity is yet to be determined. What has certainly been established is a real shift in viewing behavior with the rise of Connected TV (CTV), predicted to reach over 195 million U.S. viewers this year (60% of the U.S.).
Connected TV allows viewers to stream from premium content creators including all major TV networks, as well as many cable and digital content creators like Bravo or Crackle. The ad supported programming is viewed through apps for smart TVs, desktop, mobile, or over-the-top (OTT) devices. And there’s something in it for everyone. It’s a less expensive, more convenient way of viewing content and it presents a real opportunity for brands since it has the impact of television with all the benefits of a digital medium.
It’s no wonder time spent watching traditional television has been on the decline since 2011 across all age groups, not just teens and millennials (down 45% and 32% respectively). In fact, 47% of adults 22 to 45 years old are watching absolutely no content on traditional TV platforms. So if you’re one of the growing number of Americans who’ve cut the cord, you can still watch the big game on a big screen by streaming it for free through the NBC or NBC Sports apps (no cable login required). The way people can view the Super Bowl just got even better, but what about the content they’re viewing?
Targeting Means Better ROI for Super Bowl Ads
Despite the huge sums spent on Super Bowl advertising to reach the masses, the irony is that advertising is getting more targeted. E*TRADE may generate brand awareness with its Super Bowl ad featuring a talking baby discussing the importance of retirement planning, but I suspect it won’t convert as many clients as would spending $5 million targeting financially responsible, upper to middle class adults in their 40’s and 50’s.
Radio advertising changed billboards; it didn’t replace them. Television changed radio. Cable changed broadcast television advertising. Just as the unlimited ways to stream premium content and original streaming programming are changing cable. However, none of that will be evident in Super Bowl LII. This year, NBC plans to air the exact same commercials on their apps as they will run on traditional broadcast, but I doubt that will be true in the Super Bowls of the future.
The Need for a Break-Through Piece of Creative Is Here to Stay
There’s a common misconception that with CTV and streaming, brands will no longer need big, expensive TV ads. But I’m here to tell you that’s just not true. Even if the advertising message is highly relevant, the Connected TV audience still has expectations for high-quality ads when consuming TV digitally.
In future Super Bowls, we’ll all see different ads from one another, more personalized and relevant. There may not be that one stand-out commercial that everyone discusses the next day but that just means we’ll all get to share our own favorite that others get to enjoy for the first time.