Seton Hall Sports Poll: Super Bowl betting, those clever ads … and, of course, Taylor

This year’s Super Bowl has the potential to be the most-watched in the game’s history, according to a New Jersey university’s polling service.

Almost three-fourths of respondents to a survey conducted by Seton Hall University students said they would be watching Super Bowl LVIII. The response marked a new high for the annual Seton Hall Sports Poll, an initiative within the Sharkey Institute at Seton Hall’s Stillman School of Business.

The figure has grown each year since 2021, when 14% less people expressed intentions to watch the “Big Game.” There were 6% less last year.

Beyond the expected viewership, the poll illuminated some emerging trends pertaining to the business of sports, betting, broadcasting and, of course, the power of a certain celebrity icon expected to be in attendance.

So, who’s looking forward to Sunday?

Most people, apparently. In a random sample of about 1,500 individuals meant to replicate U.S. Census demographics, 72% of the country’s residents planned on watching the Kansas City Chiefs clash with the San Francisco 49ers.

You either love it or hate it (or are totally ambivalent about it), but there’s no denying the Taylor Swift effect — and how that comes to bear on these record numbers.

The survey spells it out: 21% of people have been influenced by Swift’s presence in their decision to watch. Break that into just the 18- to 34-year-old demographic, and that number jumps to a whopping 41%.

That’s one of the findings that intrigues Dan Ladik, marketing professor and methodologist for the Seton Hall Sports Poll, about Sunday’s faceoff at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

“I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be that high,” Ladik said. “She’s not a player, not at all associated with football. And yet, we’re saying that 1 in 5 people could be tuning in simply because she’s in the stadium.

“I really can’t think of someone that has the sort of economic impact that she does. It’s absolutely a phenomenon.”

How are they watching?

Television is still the answer for many Americans, Ladik said. Of the survey’s respondents, 52% are sticking to their TV set when it comes time to tune in.

However, second-screen viewing, or watching another content on another device at the same time, is on the rise. The amount of people engaging in that has nearly doubled from 2021 to this year, with 14% reporting they’ll be utilizing two different viewing experiences for the game.

One twist this year’s NFL postseason put on the usual business of broadcasting games was a first-ever streaming-exclusive playoff matchup. On Jan. 13, NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service hosted a contest between the Miami Dolphins and the now championship-contending Chiefs.

While Ladik said the surveys revealed there was a significant amount of football fans who didn’t watch because they found it too difficult to figure out, 50% of respondents said they didn’t have a subscription beforehand, and chose to sign up just because of the game.

“Hypothetically speaking, the NFL brought them in, and more than half of them actually say they’re going to stay subscribed for more than three months,” he said. “Usually, the current wisdom is that people buy for the week. They want to watch the game and then unsubscribe. Apparently not here.”

As far as betting, advertising and the rest go …

Ladik indicated that one of the most interesting findings from a business perspective was the fact that — even as more states are opening the doors to sports betting — the number of respondents planning on making a wager on the game is slightly down this year.

“This is the first year that sports betting is flattening out,” he said. “Are we at peak sports betting? I doubt it.”

This year, 27% of survey respondents said they’ll be betting on the game. That’s lower than last year’s 29%, but higher than 2022’s 22% figure.

Businesses are also still finding good reason to pour money into top-dollar Super Bowl ads. Three-fourths of those polled said they’ll be paying close attention to the commercials that run during the Super Bowl.

In fact, 46% of people responded that they look forward to those commercials, as well as the halftime show, more than the game itself.

As for who football fans will be cheering for, more respondents are rooting for the Chiefs (28% overall, and 39% of avid sports fans) than the 49ers (23% and 35%, respectively).