The game could set a record. The broadcast, perhaps aided by an army of Swift fans, may surpass the 115 million viewers who tuned in last year, making that the most-watched show in U.S. history. (Viewership for N.F.L. games has rebounded strongly in recent years; the A.F.C. and N.F.C. championship matches on Jan. 28 accounted for nearly 39 percent of national linear TV viewing.)
That would help explain why advertisers were still willing to fork over $7 million for a 30-second spot during last night’s broadcast. (More on the ads later.) “In this era of fragmentation, the Super Bowl is what television used to be,” Brad Adgate, a veteran media analyst, told The Times.
The N.F.L. may also profit from its growing ties to sports betting. Wagers were expected to surpass $23 billion. Not all of that was necessarily legal, but the level of interest may validate the league’s interest in gambling, which has yielded lucrative sponsorships with betting companies and, more important, increased engagement from sports fans.
All this bodes well for the league’s future. The N.F.L. already stands to collect more than $125 billion from selling broadcast rights to its games over the next decade. Strong viewership numbers is enabling the league to parcel out games to streaming giants for eye-wateringly high prices.
That success is pushing up valuations of N.F.L. franchises to record levels, and as DealBook reported this weekend will be high on the agenda at next month’s owners meeting to discuss allowing institutions to buy into teams.