All Eyes Watching: Why Super Bowl XLVI Will Set Viewership Records

The NFL hit it big this weekend with the Patriots and Giants winning their respective conference championship games to reach Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. League officials would never admit it but this was the match-up they were salivating over.

Why? Well consider the storylines. The Giants seem to have channeled their 2007-08 predecessors, turning what was a mediocre regular season into a late season stampede through the NFC playoffs as an underdog. In that season Big Blue shocked the football world by defeating the league’s only unbeaten team — you guessed it — the New England Patriots, in an unbelievable finish. (Disclaimer: If you’re a Giants fan, proceed to click the link. If you’re a Patriots fan just keep reading, unless you enjoy torture).

Now the Patriots have a shot at redemption (sort of) against the same foe that stripped immortality from them in Super Bowl XLII. Even those who know little about football know of the upset four years ago, and that alone should compel casual fans to watch.

Next, think of the big name players who headline the game, Brady and Manning (no, not that Manning). Tom Brady has long been a superstar of the sport, and Peyton’s little brother has elevated his game to an “ELIte” level. These established names, as well as new ones such as Cruz, Nicks, Gronkowski and Hernandez give the game some sex appeal.

Now throw in the fan bases and markets. The Giants and their mostly New York audience helped set TV ratings for the NFC Championship Game as high as they’d been in 17 years. The Patriots meanwhile have the benefit of the entire New England region to back them, and their run of success in the last decade has kept fans interested.

Of course the Super Bowl would draw big numbers regardless of who was playing in it. In fact last year’s Packers-Steelers Super Bowl was the most-watched television broadcast in U.S. history. A grand total of 111 million people saw Green Bay win its fourth Lombardi Trophy, up from the 106.5 million who saw the Saints derail the Colts the year prior. The trend is all part of football’s dominance of American culture.

All of this will make for a wildly popular Super Sunday, but there’s one final puzzle piece which well put viewership over the top: online streaming. For the first time in Super Bowl history, the NFL and NBC Sports will allow the game to be streamed live on laptops, smart phones and tablets. This will undoubtedly expand viewership totals to new levels, and is why many predict this will be the most-watched Super Bowl ever.

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