Super Bowl Hosts Record Commercial Time

Feb 5, 2008  •  Post A Comment

A record 95.7 million people watched the New York Giants upset the undefeated New England Patriots on Sunday, but not all of them were watching the game live.
In addition to being symbolic of the pinnacle of the pro football audience, the Super Bowl has become advertising’s biggest stage, and at $2.7 million per 30 seconds, it’s good to know what viewers are doing on a second-by-second basis.
With new measurement techniques from digital video recorder maker TiVo and set-top box data from TNS Media Research, there’s more information available about how viewers are spending their Super Sunday, and whether advertisers’ money is being well spent.
TNS said that Super Bowl XLII had a record amount of network commercial time, with Fox airing 45 minutes and 10 seconds worth of advertising messages. That figure includes paid sponsors, messages from the NFL and promos for other Fox programming.
Despite the clutter, few viewers tuned away from the commercial breaks during the game, with the index of commercial viewing to program viewing averaging 100.
The highest commercial retention score went to the 30-second commercial for Ford’s F-series truck, which posted a 112 in the position just prior to kick-off. The lowest commercial retention occurred during the post-game programming, as viewing dropped from a rating of 31.4% to 21.6%. The last pod, airing prior to “House,” averaged a commercial retention index of 78.
Less than 1% of commercial seconds were avoided by channel changing, according to TNS’ analysis of second-by-second viewing data.
Those watching in high definition were less likely to tune away, with only 0.5% of those seconds being lost. Almost all Super Bowl advertising was presented in high definition.
According to TNS, 5.7% of households viewed the game on Fox HD, representing close to 19% of the total audience.
Some Super Bowl ads are so good that not only are they not being skipped, they’re being replayed.
“TiVo makes it simple for consumers to control which commercial they want to watch again, using their remotes to prove once more that the most popular ads are the ones that get people laughing,” said Todd Juenger, VP and general manager of TiVo audience research and measurement. The close game kept people watching, and “we can confirm that the advertising spots held the audience’s attention as much as the action on the field.”
TiVo’s most-watched commercial was one for E-Trade featuring a baby stock buyer who spits up. Other top spots were from Pepsi, Doritos, Coca-Cola, Ice Breakers, Bridgestone, Bud Light, Vitamin Water, Cars.com and Life Water.
To be counted by TiVo, the spots had to be watched at “play” speed.
Another way to look at the success of Super Bowl ads is the Web traffic they generated through search requests.
Reprise Media said Pepsi’s ads were the big winners on that score, marking a comeback from last year when it finished at the bottom of the list.
Not surprisingly, Web-based direct marketers CareerBuilder.com and GoDaddy.com also scored significant numbers of online searches.
Also among the top finishers were Cars.com, T-Mobile and Tide, which successfully integrated Super Bowl TV commercials with search and social media.
Reprise Media said while most movie studios generated buzz for their upcoming releases, they could have done better by buying key search ads for the films.
One company managed to hijack the game on the information superhighway. Edmunds.com didn’t buy a spot, but it bought paid search ads that popped up when fans went online for information about the big game.
Overall, Reprise found that only 6% of Super Bowl marketers gave a call to action in their commercial, and less than 10% included their celebrity, mascot or tagline in their search terms.
But there are signs of improvement, as 84% of the ads showed a Web address in their commercials, and all of those addresses linked to the correct landing page.
“In an increasingly fragmented media world, the Super Bowl represents the last of the true mass-marketing opportunities available to advertisers,” said Peter Hershberg, managing partner of Reprise Media. “As we’ve seen throughout the past four years of our study, the buzz created by an audience that large can cause huge spikes in online behavior. Marketers that overlook search and social media are potentially missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with interested consumers during the game.”
More information about viewer behavior during the big game will come to light over time. Just last week, second-by-second data about 2007’s Super Bowl LXI was analyzed and released.
Surprisingly, an analysis by Starcom USA of data from the 300,000 Charter Cable homes in Los Angeles collected by TNS Media Research and from TiVo found there was a fair amount of time-shifting going on in one of the biggest live events on TV.
In fact, more than one-third of TiVo users time-shifted, although not by much. About three-quarters were watching within an hour of game time.
For some commercials in the 2007 frame, ratings were almost one-third higher than for the game as a whole. Commercials for Chevrolet and Doritos had indexes of more than 130, indicating 30% higher viewing than during the rest of the program.
Starcom also found that while the game’s rating increased as it progressed because the score remained close until the fourth quarter, commercial retention decreased slightly. That suggests that as the game got more exciting, viewers were more engaged with the game, but not with the spots.
The agency compared the Super Bowl to other big TV events for how well it retained viewers during commercials. The Super Bowl had a commercial viewing index of 99, higher than that of the Academy Awards, with a 96; the “American Idol” finale, with a 95; the NCAA Final Four, with a 95; and the NCAA Basketball Championship game, with a 94.
Overall, television in the first quarter of 2007 averaged an 89 CVI, so to some degree investing in high-profile, live programming pays off if you want people to see your commercial.


  1. Of course. One of the best things about the Super Bowl is the commercials. But this year, the game was actually pretty good also.
    GIANTS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!

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