American Football’s imminent death has been greatly exaggerated – for now, at least. Super Bowl XLIX was the most-watched event in US TV history; and if Google Trends are anything to go by, it was a wildly popular event online too.
Here are a few things that leap out of the data:
1) Controversy sells
Deflategate – the inevitable name for the scandal over the low-pressure balls used in the Patriots’ play-off game – clearly wasn’t a turn off. Domestic abuse scandals from earlier in the season might have been, but for whatever reason, that hasn’t hampered viewing figures.
2) This is a step change in interest
Look at the Google trends data from 2004 to 2014 for the search term “Super Bowl”, worldwide, pre 2015:
As you would expect, interest – as measured by Google’s collection of Super Bowl related searches – spikes around the time of the big game each year, but going from peak to peak, interest was relatively flat. Searches from 2014 (scoring 100) were a bit higher than 2013 (86), which were down from 2012 and 2011 (92).
Now look at the worldwide chart including the Super Bowl just gone:
That’s quite some spike. Unless the data is going to be revised in the next few days, it looks like this year’s Super Bowl was a huge online event.
3) If the NFL is going to set up an overseas team, London shouldn’t be a shoo-in
London got three NFL games this year, and talk of a London NFL franchise has been kicking around for a while. But the NFL does have other options: Canada, Mexico and Germany have all been mentioned at one time or other.
So let’s compare the interest (as measured by Super Bowl searches) in those four locations over the past five years, which is roughly when serious talk of overseas teams started. We can’t drill down just to London, so the UK will have to do as a comparison. (Aside: when you isolate the data to England, the town that comes out top is Altrincham, followed by London. I have no idea why.)
There’s a big recent spike, but for the recent Super Bowl, the countries score like this: Canada, 100; Mexico, 74; Germany, 38; UK, 19. Where would you go?
4) Brits don’t know if it’s one word or two
Superbowl or Super Bowl? Re-run the chart above with the incorrect one-word spelling, and the UK (with 26) leapfrogs over Germany and Mexico (both on 20). Canada is still top, but overall, Canadians do know it’s two words by a score of 100 to 70. Germans do even better, scoring 100 to 35.
The Brits, however, get it wrong more than they get it right: Google Trends shows “Superbowl” scores 100 in the UK compared to “Super Bowl” with 90. Clearly there’s still a lot of marketing work to do in the UK.
UPDATE: I have amended the Google Trends numbers for the 4 country comparison with the latest data.