The Green Bay Packers will clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in Super Bowl XLV. For those of you not familiar with Roman numerals, it will be the 45th edition of the marquee U.S. sporting event.
The Super Bowl has become so big, that a 30 second commercial spot during the upcoming game will cost $3 million. Just compare that with $40,000 per spot in the inaugural Super Bowl back in 1967.
U.S. interest is also at an all-time high. Last year’s Super Bowl surpassed the final episode of the series M*A*S*H as the most-watched U.S. TV broadcast ever, pulling in an average of 106.5 million viewers. According to futuressport.com, the global television audience for that same Super Bowl was 121 million.
In comparison, the 2010 World Cup final attracted close to 700 million viewers according to tournament organizers.
Granted, the figures may be grossly bloated, but even so, you can bet the real figure is still way bigger than the total Super Bowl audience.
It’s pretty easy to understand why the World Cup final pulls in more viewers than American football’s final. First off, football (soccer) is a global sport and because of that, practically every country in the world has a chance to qualify for the World Cup finals.
In the end, 32 countries from different parts of the world make it, thus drawing not only the attention of the participating national teams, but that particular continent’s fans whose nations missed out on qualifying.
Another key is that the World Cup takes place once every four years. There have only been 19 competitions since its inception back in 1930.
In contrast, American football is strictly American. Although there is a league in Canada, the sport thrives within the borders of the United States.
The NFL tried its luck in Europe when it founded the NFL Europe league in the mid-nineties. It was mostly used as a developmental league and a way to draw European fans, but it didn’t work out and the NFL pulled the plug in 2007.
The NFL is also adding international players to its rosters at a growing rate, but their numbers are still relatively small to compete with other American sports like baseball and basketball.
But no matter what the figures say, the Super Bowl is and always will be America’s sporting apex.
Americans could care less about the event’s global appeal because they know what’s big in the U.S. will inevitably carry some weight world-wide.
They know that the world will pay attention not because lots of countries are involved, but because it’s the love and pride of just one.
The Super Bowl shows no signs of slowing down as a marquee sporting event, and fans in the U.S. or across the world would much rather see it every year, rather than have to wait four.