MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - University of Memphis student Nathan Galloway researched, wrote, and produced the following report. He set out to understand the social reach and influence of the Super Bowl. His report is being published on WMC Action News 5 with his permission.
More than 100 million people watch the Super Bowl every year across the country, but not all of them watch it for the football.
"It's called the Super Bowl," said Dr. Cody Havard, associate professor of Sport Commerce at the University of Memphis. "From the very beginning of the game, they try to create this as and they try to promote this as the event you want to watch in a sporting year."
And it works. A YouGov survey reported that 111.9 million people watched Super Bowl 50 in 2016, citing motivations other than football, such as the advertisements and for the social aspects that come with the big game.
Michael Real, a professor emeritus at Royal Roads University in Canada, was one of the first to write about people's motivations for watching the annual game. His study, "Super Bowl: Mythical Spectacle," focused specifically on Super Bowl XIII in 1974. He interviewed 100 people, asking why they watched the big game that year. Only 12 percent of his respondents were fans, and another 40 percent said they watched football regularly. Of the others, 18 percent said there was nothing else to do, 16 percent believed it was the one big game to not miss, 10 percent watched because they had bets on the game, 2 percent thought it was the "in" thing to do, and another 2 percent watched it to spend time with their boyfriend or girlfriend.
The previously mentioned YouGov survey also found that 52 percent of U.S. adults are either somewhat or very excited to watch the commercials during the big game. The Huffington Post wrote about a more in-depth version of the YouGov poll. Here, the poll indicates that 26 percent of young Americans (18-30) believe the best part of the Super Bowl is the advertisements. On the other hand, 24 percent prefer the actual football game.
Regardless of the audience's motivations, the Super Bowl continues to be one of the most watched television programs and its influence on society is evident.