The National Football League's (NFL) non-stop social-justice virtue-signaling this year combined with the fact that Super Bowl LV was a championship game unlike any other, considering it was played during a virus pandemic, and was a blow out, likely weighed on the audience, but the numbers were not pretty at all.
According to Nielsen, Super Bowl LV attracted 96.4 million viewers across CBS, streaming platforms, and other outlets. CBS alone had 91.6 million viewers, the most-watched show of the year. But compared to the broadcast of last year's Super Bowl, viewership was down 8%.
Deadline said, "the 55th Super Bowl distinctly had the smallest network audience since the very different TV era of 2006."
Despite the loss of viewership, Super Bowl LV was the most live-streamed event in history, with 5.7 million viewers per minute, up 69% from 2020's prior high.
The eruption in streaming makes perfect sense since cable cutting has been accelerating in recent years.
The 31-9 blowout game by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on home turf, with quarterback Tom Brady, also led to an audience decline through much of the game.
NFL ratings have slipped ever since Colin Kaepernick started to kneel at games in late 2016. Other players have followed his lead, and the league as a whole has shifted in promoting social justice causes.
During Super Bowl LV, the NFL aired a commercial to demonstrate the importance of diversity.
While our season is ending, our fight for equity is not.— Inspire Change (@InspireChange) February 8, 2021
It takes all of us to create change and advance social justice.
Learn more at https://t.co/1n7GSdNDx6. #InspireChange pic.twitter.com/NdKd8JkW1W
Mariah Carey was not pleased with the NFL's commercial and mocked Kaepernick in a tweet.
"Happy Colin Kaepernick Appreciation Day!" Carey tweeted.
With NFL ratings on the decline, this past Super Bowl was the second time in three years the championship game failed to crack 100 million TV viewers. The most-watched game was in 2015 between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.
Here are the most-watched NFL Super Bowls.
1. 2015: 114.4 million – Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks (NBC)
2. 2014: 112.2 million – Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos (Fox)
3. 2016: 111.9 million – Super Bowl 50: Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers (CBS)
4. 2012: 111.35 million – Super Bowl XLVI: New York Giants vs. New England Patriots (NBC)
5. 2017: 111.32 million – Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons (Fox)
All of which makes us wonder - did brands like Budweiser and Pepsi, who decided to sit this Super Bowl out from an advertising perspective, know something the rest of us didn't?