Americans’ Interest in the Super Bowl Hits a High

The big game’s popularity has risen notably in recent years, especially among Gen Z and women audiences, signaling that the NFL's efforts to broaden its cultural relevance are paying off
Getty Images / Morning Consult artwork by Ashley Berry
February 07, 2024 at 5:00 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • Nearly 3 in 4 U.S. adults (73%) said they plan to watch Super Bowl LVIII on February 11th, a series high since Morning Consult began tracking this behavior in 2021.

  • Both year-over-year and all-time increases in expected Super Bowl viewership were largest among women, Gen Z adults and millennials — key demographics that have been newly transfixed by the NFL.

  • While only 12% of likely Super Bowl watchers plan to tune in primarily for the advertisements, a large majority (66%) said they will pay attention to commercials during the big game, proving it is still one of the most meaningful mass-market messaging vehicles available to brands today.

Last year’s Super Bowl drew 115.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched U.S. telecast in history. But 2024’s big game may bring in even bigger numbers.

New Morning Consult data shows that 73% of U.S. adults said they will likely watch the big game — which takes place on February 11th at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers — bringing this metric to its highest-ever level since we began tracking in 2021. 

The outsized enthusiasm for Super Bowl LVIII appears to be universal: Almost every major demographic saw bumps in expected viewership over 2023.  

Super Bowl LVIII is hot 

Interest in the Super Bowl has been on an upswing in recent years as the NFL continues to recover from the reputational hit it took amid national anthem protests by players in 2017 and 2018, but the X-factor at play in 2024 is undoubtedly the potential presence of now 14-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift, who counts more than half of all U.S. adults as fans.

Americans’ Interest In the Super Bowl Is On the Rise

Shares of respondents who said they are interested in watching the Super Bowl:
Surveys conducted Jan. 25-26, 2021, Jan. 31, 2022, Jan. 31-Feb.1, 2023 and Jan. 3-4, 2024 among representative samples of roughly 2,200 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Those fans are eagerly waiting to see if Swift will make it back to Las Vegas in time to support her boyfriend, Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, after her “Eras Tour” stint in Tokyo wraps up the day prior. Previous Morning Consult research found that Swift’s fandom — arguably one of the most intense and galvanizing social forces in the U.S. at the moment — skews largely young and female, corresponding with the groups that saw the biggest year-over-year increases in Super Bowl interest. 

That said, young womens’ attraction to football goes beyond just this moment. Our Brand Intelligence data shows that the NFL has been gaining popularity with Gen Z and millennial women at a rapid clip post-2020. 

And beyond that, the Super Bowl’s broader rise in popularity is also evidence that the league’s recent marketing offensive may be working. The effort boasts many legs — all aimed at propping up the NFL’s cultural relevance — including atypical collaborations with fashion and beauty brands, an annual slate of international games played in increasingly exotic locations, and an embracing of Gen Z content creators at league events. Less tactically, the NFL has also enjoyed a recent boom of young, eccentric coaches (whose antics seem tailor-made for social media virality) and a burgeoning interest in athlete WAG (an acronym for “wives and girlfriends”) content among the very-online community. 

It’s all great news for the NFL, which, like so many of its competitors, constantly grapples with engaging diverse audiences. Of course, it’s also great news for the league’s advertising and broadcast partners. CBS, Super Bowl LVIII’s host network, sold out its ad inventory back in November, with a 30-second spot reportedly going for as much as $7 million. 

Engagement with Super Bowl ads is high

Though Morning Consult’s annual pre-Super Bowl surveys consistently find that commercials are not a primary driver of likely viewership, the sheer scale of the event still makes participation worthwhile for most major brands. 

At a time when media channels are growing increasingly fragmented, the Super Bowl offers advertisers access to the largest, most unified and, crucially, most engaged audience of American consumers: Approximately two-thirds (66%) of likely watchers said that they will pay attention to ads during Super Bowl LVIII, an impressively high figure that holds steady each year.

A Majority of U.S. Adults Pay Attention To Super Bowl Commercials

Likely Super Bowl watchers* were asked how much attention they plan to pay to advertisements during the game:
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*Likely Super Bowl watchers are respondents who, in their respective survey year, indicated they were / are either “very” or “somewhat” likely to watch the Super BowI.
Surveys conducted Jan. 25-26, 2021, Jan. 31, 2022, Jan. 31-Feb.1, 2023 and Jan. 3-4, 2024 among representative samples of roughly 2,200 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Men are historically more likely than women to report that they’ll engage with Super Bowl ads, though this could be changing soon. In recent years, many female-forward brands have taken notice of women’s growing affinity for the NFL and moved to involve themselves in the big game.

E.l.f Cosmetics is returning to the Super Bowl in 2024, this time with its first-ever national ad buy; Temu, the Chinese online shopping platform, is back for the second year in a row as well. Meanwhile, NYX Professional Makeup and Etsy are making their respective Super Bowl debuts, and Unilever’s Dove will air a 30-second spot for the first time in almost two decades.

It’s a marked shift for the institution of Super Bowl advertising, which has long been dominated by companies operating in more traditionally masculine consumption categories, like beer and automotive. And all of those commitments were made prior to Taylor Swift’s tie to the game was cemented, reflecting the beginnings of a broader shift in the kind of audiences brands are seeking. 

Team Taylor

Since the Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC Championship on Jan. 28, brands across nearly every vertical have scrambled to create additional content around the pop star’s possible appearance in Las Vegas, eager to connect with consumers over what feels like the first near-monocultural moment of the social media era. 

As with most things Swift-related, this impact transcends the confines of the internet. Fans are already prepping elaborate Taylor Swift-themed Super Bowl parties and purchasing new outfits to don at them. Some have even scored tickets to the game itself. 

Ultimately, the Super Bowl remains the highest-visibility moment in American advertising — a fact made truer than ever this year as Swift’s NFL association has firmly embedded the league and its happenings in broader popular culture. The phenomenon also speaks, once again, to the power of women consumers. When they get attached to a brand, product or experience, they will invest in it, make it their own and, through that process, elevate its cultural cachet.

A headshot photograph of Ellyn Briggs
Ellyn Briggs
Brands Analyst

Ellyn Briggs is a brands analyst on the Industry Intelligence team, where she conducts research, authors analyst notes and advises brand and marketing leaders on how to apply insights to make better business decisions. Prior to joining Morning Consult, Ellyn worked as a market researcher and brand strategist in both agency and in-house settings. She graduated from American University with a bachelor’s degree in finance. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected].

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