The Decline of the Superbowl


Alexis Hampton, Managing Editor

So, by show of hands, who didn’t watch the Superbowl? Thought so. I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t watch it this year, since their viewership has been steadily declining over the past few years. This year, they pulled about 96 million viewers, which is a lot of people–but in the grand scheme of things, that’s not as many as you think. The most watched Superbowl of all time in 2015 rounded up almost 115 million, and it’s only gone down from there. I can only guess why that might be, but I definitely have some opinions.


Halftime Show Timeline

The halftime shows are not the problem, by far. The timeline, however, hasn’t helped them. The biggest flub was having Beyonce’ perform in 2013. They got record-breaking views for that year, but imagine if they had waited to have her perform in 2020? Beyonce’ exudes “finale” energy, so they definitely should have used her as a secret weapon to get their viewership back up to par. Also, some of the logistics have haunted them in the past. For example, Taylor Swift hasn’t performed because the halftime show is sponsored by Pepsi, and she has a contract with Coke. Another instance is when Adele was offered the show and she declined because it’s more about the performance than the music, and Adele has made it very clear that she is a singer–not a performer. And the injustice with Colin Kaepernick as it relates to the NFL isn’t helping. Some of the performers we’ve been waiting to see, like Rihanna, refuse to perform because of that.


Colin Kaepernick Injustice

Speaking of which, this is probably a very big reason that the Superbowl ratings have gone down. Over the years, viewership has decreased at an average of about 4 million. In 2017, after the Kaepernick debacle, viewership decreased by about 8 million. Since then, views have steadily decreased by about 5 million. I don’t know all the math and percentages, but I think there’s something to be said there. When his protests got him kicked out of the NFL, the people that stood with him vowed to boycott. It would appear that those people kept their word. There’s no way to tell unless he is brought back. Even then, the racial injustices and inequalities in America can’t be ignored anymore. Now that the NFL have shown their true colors, that could continue to hurt them.


Lame Commercials

I know I’m not the only one who has noticed this. The commercials have fallen all the way off the wagon. They’re just not funny anymore. Now, it’s all about having some major celebrity stand there and look pretty or who can have the most celebrity cameos in 30 seconds. If GenZ got to create the commercials for the Superbowl, we’d all be dying of laughter. Maybe they should consider that. Look at the top 10 Superbowl commercials from 2021 versus the top commercials from 2009. You could honestly pick any random year and they’d be better. Notice how in the 2009 commercials, there are very few celebrities. That’s because the content mattered. They didn’t coast on star power back then. If we got back to that place, maybe viewership would go up. There was a time when I used to hate taking bathroom breaks because every waking moment was entertaining. The halftime show, the commercials, and the game. That’s not the case anymore.


Boring Games

The games are just BORING. Now, I’m not a football fanatic by any means, but I understand football enough to know when it’s not interesting. The past few years haven’t even been close games. We want to see a good game where both teams fight to the finish. Recently, it seems like the teams were done before they even started. We want to see energy. We want to see a real battle for who is the best team in the league. It doesn’t help that football has gone soft. The referees will call anything now.  They just keep coming up with more dumb rules to water down the game of football. I mean, what even is “excessive celebration”? The end zone dancing is getting to be more entertaining than the game itself.


Cable TV is Dying

This probably contributes the most to the downfall of the American tradition that is the Superbowl. The game is televised and nobody watches cable TV anymore. You have basically everything you need on streaming sites now. Now, in order to watch the game for people that don’t have cable, you have to stream it from somewhere. You can usually watch it for free on the CBS app. That’s a decision that has to be made. With cable, you can just turn the TV on and press a number to change the channel. With streaming, you have to download the app and probably create an account. People are lazy, and since the program isn’t as interesting as it used to be, they have every right. 


I don’t know what their plan is, but they have got to do something before the Superbowl shifts from an American tradition to a distant memory. Congratulations to Tom Brady, though.