By: Noam Zolty  | 

The Super Bowl: A Money Perspective

This year’s Super Bowl LI was certainly one of the most exciting Super Bowls in NFL history. Down 28-3 in the third quarter, the New England Patriots were able to claw back in regulation time and eventually defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. Historically, there had never been a larger Super Bowl comeback greater than 10 points. And now over 111 million people witnessed a comeback of 25 points. According to ESPN Stats and Info, shortly after the Falcons scored their last touchdown and went up 28-3, they had a 98.9% probability of winning the game. It was one of the most riveting events of the year, with many sports fans proclaiming it the greatest sporting event they had ever witnessed. However, aside from the action happening on the field, this year’s Super Bowl shattered many other metrics. Notably, the amount of money generated by the Super Bowl made it one of most profitable sporting events in recent history.

The Super Bowl generated some $375 million in media revenue. This includes the money that the Fox Network paid for the rights to broadcast the game, the amount of money advertisers paid to broadcast commercials during the game, as well as radio and other media. This year’s Super Bowl broke the record for the price of a commercial broadcast. An average thirty-second commercial cost $5.2 million. That is almost double the cost of 2010, a clear demonstration of how valuable an advertisement during the Super Bowl is for corporations. An additional $145 million is generated through licensing revenue, which is the revenue received when companies use the NFL and Super Bowl logos and copyrights in their advertising campaigns. With an added $88 million via tickets and concession stands and $12 million made from the halftime show, the NFL generated almost $620 million in total revenue due to the Super Bowl.

This number doesn’t even include the amount of money that average Americans spent on their own personal Super Bowl viewing experiences. According to the statistics website Statista, around one in five Americans hosted or organized a Super Bowl Party. The average amount of money spent on each party was $154. This is an increase in $87 from seven years ago. An estimated $14.1 billion was spent on Super Bowl related purchases this year. To put that in perspective: that is greater than the total annual GDP of over eighty countries in the world. Not only are more and more Americans watching the Super Bowl every year, but they’re becoming more invested in the game as seen by their increased spending year over year.

Most significant of all these mind-blowing numbers is the amount of money that was spent on the most famous Super Bowl related activity: gambling. According to BoydsBet, a gambling statistics website, Americans wager more money on the Super Bowl than on any other sporting event. Nevada casinos report that over $138.5 million are placed on bets taken in by their sports bookies. Since the spread of the game was +3 for the Falcons, most bettors placed their bets against the Patriots. What this meant was that if the Patriots won by over three points, those who bet on the patriots would win, but if they won by under three points or lost the game then those who bet on the Falcons would win the wager. When the Falcons took their enormous lead, most Patriots fan were in all likelihood extremely despondent and nervous about their team’s chances. However, the bookies at the casino were probably even more worried. If the Falcons had gone on to win the game, according to BoydsBet, they would have lost almost $25 million in total. When the Patriots made their miraculous comeback and were able to win by over six points, clearing the spread, the casinos in Vegas recouped their money and reaped a profit of over $10 million.

Although these numbers are quite astounding, they pale in comparison to the amount of money that is wagered amongst family and friends. These days there is an entire industry devoted to crafting different types of wagers that people make on the Super Bowl. These vary from betting on the winner of the Super Bowl, to the amount of points scored in each quarter, to which brand’s commercials will be shown. Other wagers include the length of the national anthem and halftime show, which team will win the coin toss, and whether or not a player will be carted off the field of play due to injury. Around 65% of all viewers of the game placed at least one wager on the game. Although it’s impossible to note exactly how much money is gambled by Americans during the big game, most conservative estimates believe that it’s around $6 billion. This means the average American wagers over eighteen dollars on some facet of the game.

The Super Bowl is no longer just a sporting event. It is now considered a national holiday. Americans spend more money on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other American holiday, excluding Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July. Through a combination of our love of football and our affinity to gamble, Super Bowl Sunday has become a cultural phenomenon and an American pastime.