Quarterback Aaron Rodgers leads the Green Bay Packers against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Super Bowl XLV should be a ratings bonanaza for Fox, building on strong football viewing all season and a match-up of two teams boasting dedicated nationwide fan bases, along with broad interest in watching game-time commercials and the half-time show. An exclusive THR/Penn Schoen Berland poll suggests viewership on Super Sunday could rise 8% over last year, eclipsing the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H as the most-watched telecast ever.
NFL football games on Fox this season averaged 20.1 million viewers, surpassing the 19.1 million record set in 2009. With the number of viewers intending to watch the Super Bowl rising steadily over the past three year, Sunday's broadcast is primed for strong rating results.
As always, football is a male-oriented sport, with excitement for the Super Bowl among men surpassing that for the World Series and even wedding anniversaries, and signficantly outpacing the Academy Awards. But 68% of women also say they intend to watch. For those not enthused about football, there are alternatives for game time.
Baseball may be the national pasttime, but football draws the big numbers on television. Games on Fox averaged 20.1 million viewers this season, up from 2009's record 19.1 million. A healthy 96% of respondents report watching at least one game during the 2010-11 season, with over half watching at least one game a week.
Play by Play
NFL coverage on Fox is popular among football viewers, with 52% preferring the network's pregame show lineup of anchors and analysts for Super Sunday.
When asked to pick which play-by-play team they'd like to hear during the game, most picked "Monday Night Football" vet Al Michaels and former wide receiver Chris Collinsworth, who beat out the team that will be calling the game for Fox, Joe Buck and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, who finds himself at home with the game being played at Cowboys Stadium.
With millions of viewers tuning in, the Super Bowl is a prime annual venue for movie trailers. Viewers polled are most looking forward to seeing spots for new entries from two established franchises, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Owing to regular and often memorable spots — and probably influenced by the food within reach in living rooms across the country — consumer brands such as Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Doritos are most familiar to game viewers, dominating the large number of automotive spots typically aired.
The Internet and social media has been blamed for declining television viewership, but on game day male fans are more willing to put aside their keyboards. Only a third of male viewers polled report planing to surf the Internet during the game, compared to 44% of women. Women are also far more like to be posting to Facebook.
Super Bowl Sunday is a major event for viewers, who often gather in groups to watch. 40% of poll respondents report planning to attend a Super Bowl party, with 62% planning on taking a break from their diet. And with alcohol often a part of bowl gatherings, almost four in 10 say they would consider calling in sick on Monday morning if they had too much to drink.
Thanks For the Memories
While the players are huddling in the locker rooms at halftime, Super Bowl broadcasters bring top talent to the field for elaborate performances. Seven years later, the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" suffered by Janet Jackson still resonates as the most-memorable half-time show for more than half of viewers polled.
Taking a Break
The Black Eyed Peas will headline the halftime show at this year's Super Bowl, with special appearances by Usher and Slash. Male viewers polled are less interested in the show, with 61% planning to watch compared to 78% of female viewers.
Fox will air a new episode of Glee immediately after the Super Bowl, and more than one in five viewers polled saying they plan to watch it. But while the game draws a decidedly male viewership, women are twice as likely to hang around for Glee, with 31% of men reporting that if they watch the show, it would be their first time.