The Super Bowl is the State of the Union for Football

Peyton Manning, ParkerMather, Super Bowl, Twitter, NFL
Meet Peyton Manning, the face of NFL success (Credit:

The Super Bowl is the State of the Union (#SOTU)  for football. Just three days ago, on February 2, MetLife Stadium in New Jersey hosted the Super Bowl XLVIII matchup between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawk’s surprising victory sent a shockwave through the twitterverse, as the birds soared to a 43-8 win. Naturally, I started looking at social media to see interaction rates during the Big Game.

The big game followed on the heels of President Obama’s January 28 State of the Union address. Television viewership was its lowest since 2000, but the tweets per minute were up from 2013.

While I tweeted live from the White House about the 2013 State of the Union, I watched from afar, in Philadelphia, this year. The 2014 State of the Union only drew 33 million viewers, the lowest since 2000, with an ostensibly paltry 2.1 million tweets sent during the address. Last year, 1.1 million tweets went out during President Obama’s annual talk to the nation.

Most researchers would ask what do the numbers tell us. Here are a few comparative data points:

The NFL generates over $9 billion in revenue each year, of which television deals account for about half. Super Bowl XLVIII was super-huge on Twitter with several million people tweeting about Peyton Manning’s legacy game.

Twitter’s impressive data scientist Nicolas Belmonte craft this interactive graph from the #SOTU. Twitter’s blog post on the #SOTU is a fun read, too.

Why The Super Bowl is the State of the Union for Football

After 16 games, the Super Bowl represents the pinnacle of athletic achievement and commerce for America’s padded pastime. Roger Goodell and company start raking obscene amounts of dough from the playoffs forward. According to Bloomberg, the NFL takes 100% of ticket revenue during post-season games. The teams keep 100% of concession sales.

(Here are cliff notes of the NFL’s State of the League address.)

The numbers bear out financial benefits clearly. The Super Bowl XLVIII was the most watched television event in U.S. history with 111.5 million viewers. The 2012 Super Bowl, with 111.3 million, held the previous record after a drop to 108 million viewers last year. This year it cost $4.5 million dollars to buy 30 seconds of ad time.

In the end almost everyone came out ahead: Peyton lost, Russell Wilson won, the NFL profited and we all have plenty of unstructured data to remember the biggest moments of the Big Game.

Until next time,


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