The viewership record for a Super Bowl was set back in 2015, when the Patriots’ win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX averaged 115.2 million viewers on NBC.
Since then, viewership for the NFL’s championship game has steadily slid, with a spike last year up to 112.3 million including out of home and streaming viewership.
Fox is optimistic going into this year’s Super Bowl between the Eagles and Chiefs. In fact, EVP and Head of Strategy & Analytics Mike Mulvihill thinks the game will hit a new record of 115 million viewers, per the Sports Business Journal.
Mulvihill called the Chiefs-Eagles matchup “a top-five matchup, if not a top three,” and cited expected increases in the competing markets, east coast markets, and the game’s home market of Phoenix as reasons for his optimism.
“We’re going to see a huge pop in Philly and probably a little bit of a pop in New York,” Mulvihill said. “Those eastern Pennsylvania markets, Scranton and Harrisburg, are bigger than people really realize. I think we’ll see at least a million additional viewers just from the Eagles’ home territory. Kansas City will do a huge number, and Phoenix as the host city will do a big number, which we didn’t really get from L.A. last year. So just by trading L.A. and Cincinnati for Philly, Kansas City, and Phoenix, I think you’re picking up two to three million right there.”
We’ll have to agree to disagree on whether or not this is a top three or top five Super Bowl matchup, but what will end up determining whether or not this game draws a record audience is the quality of the game. Last year’s Rams-Bengals game was a one-score affair throughout, with the Rams scoring the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Two years ago, the Bucs took the lead late in the first quarter, and never trailed again en route to a 22 point win. Viewership suffered as a result.
If this game is chaotic and close, record viewership isn’t out of the question. If it’s boring (remember that Patriots-Rams snoozer, a close game that was like watching paint dry?) or a blowout, it’ll be much harder for Fox to hit a record.