If they executives of the major pro sports are not concerned about their ability to generate billions of dollars of income without opening the gates, they should be now. It has been one thing to have had regular season and early post-season ratings down across each of the sports since last March. But now that the Super Bowl ratings dropped, the ramifications could be coming over the next couple of years.
The Tampa Bay win over Kansas City finished as the lowest rated Super Bowl telecast since 2007, becoming only the 2nd telecast since then to generate under 100 million viewers. The audience was down roughly six million from last year's game.
Going in to this game, all signs pointed to record high audiences, even without the added drama of Brady vs. Mahomes for the championship. The pandemic caused far more people than usual to be at home or in limited gatherings to watch the game. The ratings of past years do not reflect the number of people viewing from large gatherings such as restaurants and bars. With millions fewer patronizing such establishments, there should have been an increase.
In addition, there was one more important factor. This year, betting on and around the "big game" was legal in many states along with online betting services able to advertise prominently within sports related programming. Point spreads and prop bets were more commonly discussed via the various media outlets.
Estimates in past years were that billions of dollars changed hands, whether legal or otherwise, because of the game. This includes the ability to bet on topics such as the length of the national anthem, last player to score, the coin toss, and so on.
These lower audience numbers happened despite including a record number of streaming minutes of the CBS telecast. Reports show that this was the first sports event ever to generate more than one billion streaming minutes, finishing with a "per minute" average of more than 5.5 million "streamers".
Despite these factors which were expected to add significantly to the audience, viewership was down. It means that during the pandemic, all four major sports have now experienced declines in championship series ratings. The leagues and teams cannot point to fans being in the stands or large gatherings to view.
All of this will make it tough for the TV networks to bid the billions of dollars they typically do or did. They are already faced with economic cutbacks and reduced advertising budgets from many large companies.
For that very reason, this could be a significant development in the sports world. The first major test figures to be the NHL, which needs to put a new deal in place before the 2021-22 season. NBC's deal runs out after the current season, while NBCSN will be going away sometime after the current NHL season and playoffs end. Indications are that NBC will not be aggressive with renewal efforts. It will be interesting to see if or how much Fox Sports and ESPN compete for future NHL rights given the current viewership climate.
LOS ANGELES: It's rare to have the son retire before the dad, but Jorge Jarrin is doing just that. Jorge decided to retire from the Dodgers Spanish radio broadcast team following the team's World Series win. Although he was on the broadcast crew for only 6 seasons, he leaves behind a 35 year on-air career in L.A., including his long tenure as a traffic reporter for KABC 790. Jamie Jarrin, Jorge's father, continues as the primary Spanish play-by-play voice.
CHICAGO: WSCR 670 The Score has added long time host and producer Matt Spiegel back to its weekday lineup. Spiegel has been with the station for most of the past 28 years. He joins afternoon host Danny Parkins as co-host on the 2 to 6 PM shift after doing fill-in and weekends since 2018 when he was pulled from co-hosting middays.
MADISON: Bill Michaels, who left WSSP 1250 The Fan in Milwaukee last month, has jointed WOZN 96.7 and 1670 The Zone (Madison) for the 10 AM to 2 PM shift starting this week. His show is also airing on WAYY-AM Eau Claire and WKTY LaCrosse, with plans to add other regional markets.