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Sports Poll: Covid-19's Impact on the Super Bowl  

NFL Patriots players on the goal lineCovid-19's Impact on the Super Bowl: Nearly Half Expect Game to be Less Exciting Than Previous Years; Nearly Two-Thirds Won't Attend Watch Parties with Others

The Covid-19 virus will seemingly have an impact on this year's Super Bowl, with almost half of respondents to a Seton Hall Sports Poll saying they expected the game to be less exciting, and nearly two-thirds saying they will stay home and not watch at parties or in bars.

These were the findings of a new Seton Hall Sports Poll, conducted January 22-25 among 1,522 adults, geographically spread across the country. The Poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percent.

Asked whether the restricted fan attendance, along with restrictions and limitations on players and gameplay would make the game less exciting than previous Super Bowls, nearly half – 47 percent – agreed, with only 28 percent disagreeing. Twenty-six percent neither agreed nor disagreed.

"In the midst of the pandemic and all its uncertainty, it looks as though the NFL will complete the season and receive its television revenue," said Professor Charles Grantham, Director of the Center for Sport Management within the Stillman School of Business, which oversees the Seton Hall Sports Poll. "They successfully navigated a challenging campaign, but the adjustments may have impacted the public's perception of the game as reflected in these findings."

Further, on what is usually a social gathering occasion, either in homes or at bars, two thirds – 64 percent – said that would not be gathering with other people that live outside of their homes.  Despite Covid-19, one in four said they will be gathering with other people that live outside of their homes.

32 percent of sports fans, 42 percent of general population, will not be watching

Nearly a third of the nation's self-described sports fans – 32 percent – say they will not be watching this year's Super Bowl. Of the general U.S. population – 42 percent – said they won't be tuning in.

The result is consistent with a 2018 Seton Hall Sports Poll in which 54 percent said they would be watching the Super Bowl, and 43 percent said they would not. According to Nielsen, in 2018 the Super Bowl drew an average viewership of 103.47 million viewers, which at the time was the lowest rating since 2009.

In 2016 when the Seton Hall Sports Poll asked the question, 68 percent of respondents said yes, they would be watching the game and only 29 percent said no. This was reflected in the viewership as, according to Nielsen, in 2016 the Super Bowl drew an average of 111.86 million viewers. Last year's big game drew only 100.45 million and the year before just 98.48, so a repeat of 2018's viewership numbers would actually represent an uptick this year for the Super Bowl.

"Viewership may be down because social gatherings bring out even the least casual fans," noted Grantham. "But of course, the Super Bowl has occupied 19 spots on the 20 most viewed programs in history, so it remains a vital part of the American experience." 

The decline of TV/rise of smart devices

As for Super Bowl questions that are not necessarily impacted by the raging virus, of the 58 percent of the population who said they would be watching, 79 percent will be watching on TV only, 14 percent on both TV and non-TV devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc., and 7 percent on non-TV devices only. Since 2016, the TV only contingent has fallen 19 points. 

In 2016 a Seton Hall Sports Poll found that 98 percent said they would be watching the Super Bowl on television – in 2018 that number was down to 90 percent, with 10 percent citing other devices or a combination of TV and other devices. For the 2021 Super Bowl "other devices" or a combination of TV and other devices totals 21 percent. 

Favorite Parts

Of those who said they will be watching, asked which part of the event they look forward to the most, only 52 percent said the game, with 21 percent saying the commercials and 20 percent the halftime show.  

Commercials 

Asked specifically about the commercials, 67 percent said they pay more attention to Super Bowl commercials than during regular viewing, and 24 percent said they are more likely to buy a product advertised during the Super Bowl since they watched a more entertaining commercial.  Forty percent disagreed that they would likely buy a product because of a Super Bowl commercial, "but advertisers would find the 24 percent number music to their ears," according to Stillman Professor of Marketing and Poll Methodologist Daniel Ladik. "There are plenty of people who would never admit that commercials influence their buys, but here are 24 percent admittedly all aboard. That's why advertisers flock to the game, even if with some restraint this year."

Results and breakdowns below. 

ABOUT THE POLL

The Seton Hall Sports Poll, conducted regularly since 2006, is performed by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business. This poll was conducted online by YouGov Plc. using a national representative sample weighted according to gender, age, ethnicity, education, income and geography, based on U.S. Census Bureau figures. Respondents were selected from YouGov's opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S residents. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been chosen for inclusion in iPoll by Cornell's Roper Center for Public Opinion Research and its findings have been published everywhere from USA Today, ESPN, The New York Times, Washington Post, AP, and Reuters to CNBC, NPR, Yahoo Finance, Fox News and many points in between. 

Media:  Michael Ricciardelli, Associate Director of Media Relations, Seton Hall University
michael.ricciardelli@shu.edu, 908-447-3034; Marty Appel, AppelPR@gmail.com

Results
Q1 - Which, if any, of the following statements best describes your interest in sports? If you do not have any interest in any specific sport, please select the 'I am not a sports fan' option.

  • I am an avid sports fan (18%)
  • I am a sports fan (40%)
  • I am not a sports fan (42%)

Q7 - On which devices, if at all, will you be watching the 2021 Super Bowl this year? Please select the option that best applies.

  • TV only (46%)
  • Non-TV device(s) only (e.g., smartphone, laptop, tablet, etc.) (4%)
  • Both TV and non-TV device(s) (8%)
  • Not applicable – I will not be watching the Super Bowl (42%)

Q8 - Will you be gathering with other people that live outside of your home (i.e., with people that are not roommates/cohabitants, etc.,) to watch the upcoming Super Bowl?

  • Yes, I will (25%)
  • No, I will not (64%)
  • Don't know/no opinion (11%)

Q9 - Which, if any, part of the Super Bowl broadcast do you look forward to the most, the game, the halftime show or the commercials?

  • Game (52%)
  • Halftime show (20%)
  • Commercials (21%)
  • Don't know/no opinion (7%)

Thinking about the upcoming Super Bowl, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements? Please select one option on each row.

Q10a - I pay more attention to the commercials during the Super Bowl compared to commercials on other TV shows

  • Strongly agree (32%)
  • Somewhat agree (35%)
  • Neither agree not disagree (17%)
  • Somewhat disagree (7%)
  • Strongly disagree (8%)

Q10b - Compared to non-Super Bowl commercials, I am more likely to buy a product advertised during the Super Bowl since I watched a more entertaining commercial

  • Strongly agree (9%)
  • Somewhat agree (15%)
  • Neither agree not disagree (36%)
  • Somewhat disagree (16%)
  • Strongly disagree (24%)

Q10c - Given all the restrictions and limitations on players, gameplay and restricted fan attendance related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), I expect that the 2021 Super Bowl will be less exciting than previous Super Bowls

  • Strongly agree (19%)
  • Somewhat agree (28%)
  • Neither agree not disagree (26%)
  • Somewhat disagree (16%)
  • Strongly disagree (12%)

January 2021 - Seton Hall Sports Poll – Fan Analysis

Q7 (N-1522) On which devices, if at all, will you be watching the 2021 Super Bowl this year? Please select the option that best applies.

*Q7 (Super Bowl watchers only N=883) On which devices, if at all, will you be watching the 2021 Super Bowl this year? Please select the option that best applies. 

*Q8 - Will you be gathering with other people that live outside of your home (i.e., with people that are not roommates/cohabitants, etc.,) to watch the upcoming Super Bowl?

*Q9 - Which, if any, part of the Super Bowl broadcast do you look forward to the most, the game, the halftime show or the commercials?

Thinking about the upcoming Super Bowl, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements? Please select one option on each row.

*Q10a - I pay more attention to the commercials during the Super Bowl compared to commercials on other TV shows

*Q10b - Compared to non-Super Bowl commercials, I am more likely to buy a product advertised during the Super Bowl since I watched a more entertaining commercial

*Q10c - Given all the restrictions and limitations on players, gameplay and restricted fan attendance related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), I expect that the 2021 Super Bowl will be less exciting than previous Super Bowls

*Note: This question was presented to only those individuals who indicated they would be watching the 2021 Super Bowl 

About Seton Hall Universty
One of the country's leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall has been showing the world what great minds can do since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 rigorous academic programs, Seton Hall's academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Seton Hall embraces students of all religions and prepares them to be exemplary servant leaders and global citizens. In recent years, the University has achieved extraordinary success. Since 2009, it has seen record-breaking undergraduate enrollment growth and an impressive 110-point increase in the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen. In the past decade, Seton Hall students and alumni have received more than 30 Fulbright Scholarships as well as other prestigious academic honors, including Boren Awards, Pickering Fellowships, Udall Scholarships and a Rhodes Scholarship. The University is also proud to be among the most diverse national Catholic universities in the country.

During the past five years, the University has invested more than $165 million in new campus buildings and renovations. And in 2015, Seton Hall launched a School of Medicine as well as a College of Communication and the Arts. The University's beautiful main campus in suburban South Orange, N.J. is only 14 miles from New York City — offering students a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. Seton Hall's nationally recognized School of Law is located prominently in downtown Newark. The University's Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) campus in Clifton and Nutley, N.J. opened in the summer of 2018. The IHS campus houses the University's College of Nursing, School of Health and Medical Sciences and the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.

For more information, visit www.shu.edu.

Categories: Athletics , Nation and World

For more information, please contact:

  • Michael Ricciardelli
  • (908) 447-3034
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