February 6, 2019

Super Bowl LIII Ratings Fall Short, Yet TV Continues to Deliver Massive Audiences for Advertisers

Nearly 1 in 2 U.S. households tuned into the Patriot’s sixth NFL championship making Super Bowl LIII the largest TV audience since last year’s Big Game. While it may not have met anticipated ratings, advertisers who purchased an in-game spot still have ways to realize their investment.

“The ratings are still huge and accounted for more than 45 percent of U.S. households,” said Debby Intini, Media Investment Supervisor, Butler/Till. “The viewership level is still tremendous, which reinforces the importance of live programming for brand advertisers.”

For local advertisers, Intini also noted that the Super Bowl is usually not purchased as a standalone commercial but rather as part of a more holistic TV schedule. Between 2016 and 2017, Butler/Till helped a regional advertiser use the Super Bowl as a launch pad for major product and brand initiatives. Each campaign drove momentum in the form of online word of mouth, brand favorability, and even purchase consideration.

“When buying locally, stations package with other programming to make the commercial more cost efficient,” said Intini.

Carrie Riby, Strategic Planning Director, Butler/Till, contemplated the role of streaming media such as Netflix. During the Super Bowl, the streaming giant tweeted that its Sunday night viewership declined by about 32 percent versus average levels. Studies suggest more than 50 percent of U.S. households subscribe to Netflix.

“I am not surprised the Super Bowl did not deliver ratings,” said Riby. “It appears that streaming may have played its role in this year’s game viewership, which just goes to show that even the Super Bowl is not immune from this trend.”

In all instances, TV persists as a valuable source of audiences for brand advertisers. Third-party studies from firms such as Marketing Evolution and Millward Brown consistently demonstrate the near- and long-term ROI when reaching consumers on the largest screen in their home. For example, a 2017 Millward Brown study posted double-digit gains for purchase consideration with just one exposure to the campaign’s TV commercial. The biggest lifts occurred among consumers who used mobile devices alongside TV.

TV viewers of live events like the Super Bowl and streaming services like Netflix consistently include some of the most affluent segments of American consumers. They include households with established, active lifestyles and comfortable, disposable incomes, which make them attractive targets for many advertisers.

To learn more about how Butler/Till helps advertisers use video and TV advertising to increase brand performance, please contact Amanda DeVito, VP of Engagement at adevito@butlertill.com.

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