Did you watch a record-breaker this weekend? Well, if you watched Super Bowl XLVI, you sure did!
This year’s Super Bowl didn’t break just one record, it broke plenty of them. Super Bowl XLVI is the most watched program in the history of U.S. broadcast television (with 111.3 million viewers—only 1 of 4 programs to exceed 100 million). It set a new record of tweets-per-second (12,233 to be exact) with Beckham claiming a fair share). Social TV was on the up and up thanks to social media. And it was the first-ever live stream of a Super Bowl and most watched sports event online (though it also caused internet traffic to dip 20% overall). But according to the trend, this is all of course before next year, when we might see records broken again.
Excuse us while we get carried away with our love of football…
As for the game itself… It was both what we expected, and yet entirely out of the blue. The supposedly mighty New England Patriot came into the game with a 13-3 record, a flashy quarterback in Tom Brady and a two-headed monster of behemoth tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Their opponent, the Giants (yes, they were on a hot streak) “surged” into the playoffs with a 9-7 record behind Eli Manning: a quarterback who cannot grow a beard, and a defense that gave up 17 points to Alex Smith despite Derrick Williams best effort to hand-deliver them a win, gift-wrapped, and on a silver platter. So how the heck were the Giants thrilling win “expected?” Because we’ve seen this all before, and we know how it turns out.
The game was nearly identical: the Giants dominated the first half and yet the Pats kept it close, Brady got hot and torched the Giants – fooling the general public into thinking they would win. Then, Patriots got the yips (again), they started dropping crucial passes (again), and their defense started to look tired (again) while the Giants defense seemed to get stronger (you get the point!)
The next act in-this-paint by sequel to Giants vs. Pats Super Bowl I was like a 007 movie: the audience is just waiting for Bond to heroically break out of his seemingly impenetrable captivity. So, yes, we were due for a miracle play from Eli Manning. Eli’s throw to Mario Manningham, while Bill Belichick screamed at his defense to make them throw to Manningham rather than the Giants other dangerous receivers, was just that.
After that catch, the rest was nearly a foregone conclusion. Of course, the Giants scored. Of course, the Patriots put together a few plays to put the fear of god in all of us and then took a crucial sack. Of course the game ended on a way too-close-for-comfort Hail Mary throw that Brady nearly willed into a diving Gronkowski catch.
Was it awesome? Well, yeah. But even to the most hardcore fan, this game felt a little bit like a sequel and not a masterpiece. Still, that didn’t stop any of you from watching, and so in turn the media followed the storylines like sharks to blood-in-the-water.
Without a doubt, coverage of the Super Bowl has been immense. Our News360 team has been hard at work analyzing articles and their proliferation before, during, and after the Super Bowl weekend*. The day before the game, we found 2,461 stories leading up to the Super Bowl. Not surprisingly, on Super Bowl Sunday, we recorded 6,650 articles—that’s astonishing 170% increase from Saturday! The largest ramp up of these stories—a full 1,001 to be exact—came just at the game concluded at the 10:00 PM mark local time. As expected, coverage held strong into Monday with an additional 7,116 articles or 7% increase following game day.
ESPN led the pack with the most published articles surrounding the Super Bowl with 176 entries, but most surprising was the appearance of the Daily Mail (UK) in the top ten media outlets by volume—it sat at number nine with 89 stories. It won’t be long until the Brits finally start calling soccer… “soccer” too!
Based on percentage of articles focusing on the Super Bowl, NFL News topped the list of media outlets with 63%. No real surprise there. Local Indianapolis affiliate, Fox 59, came in fourth with 48% coverage focused on the game they were hosting. What was curious was that Entertainment Weekly, normally focused on film, television, and celebrity fashion, dedicated 46% of its coverage to the game earning a spot at number five.
It might have been the love for football, it might be the size of the population, or there just might be less pride on the East Coast because California (1,130), Colorado (658), and Texas (533) were the top three, respectively, when it came to articles in local media regarding the Super Bowl. Massachusetts (Patriots) came in fifth (443), while New York (Giants) came in seventh (245).
Brady sure gets the attention, even when he’s a on a losing team. More articles mentioned the Patriot’s quarterback (5,927) than Manning (4,769). Eli can’t even get a break when the Giants win the Super Bowl!
It’s even worse for the Giant’s quarterback when it comes to headlines, where he came in third with 479 mentions. Again, Brady took the top spot with 573 mentions. M.I.A. came in second, without a doubt thanks to her little stunt during the halftime show, with 500 mentions. She even bested halftime show headliner Madonna, who came in fourth with only 213. No mention of the other musical acts from the Super Bowl in the top ten, including Kelly Clarkson who did sing the National Anthem before the game. Katy Perry, however, managed to sneak in at ten with 147 mentions because she partied it up with the Giants after their victory. Really, journalists?
Brand-wise, the NFL (689), the Patriots (557), and NBC (363) received the most mentions in article titles most likely due to the league itself, losing, and ratings. The winning Giants came in fourth (259), while car manufacturers Chrysler and Ford came in fifth (191) and sixth (120) thanks to their Super Bowl ads.
It’s unfortunate, but based on the mentions and sentiment, Super Bowl XLVI looks to be remembered as the game Brady and the Patriots lost, rather than the one Manning and the Giants won. Either way, the Super Bowl was an amazing event as always and we’re looking forward to the next season. In the meantime, someone should let baseball know they are clearly no longer America’s national pastime—the numbers speak for themselves.
* As a disclosure, we anchored publication time and date to UTC-5 or Indianapolis’ time zone due to the fact the Super Bowl was held at the Lucas Oil Stadium there.