The Super Bowl was not all that super. Most of those who actually watched thought it was really boring, a game only a punter could love. And Saints fans in particular thought the game was tainted due to the worst non-call in NFL history . It was a perfect storm that led to historically low viewership -- the least-watched Super Bowl since 2009 . Nationally, the game drew a 44.9 rating, which translates to about 45% of American households watching the game. It's still going to be the most watched television program of the year, but there's a good chance it will mean fewer than 100 million watched the game for the first time in a decade.
And this, despite better TV ratings for the regular season and playoffs. Forbes was actually predicting much higher Super Bowl ratings this year.
Apparently, they didn't count on #WhoDatNation ,
Nor did they envision how a historically bad call could challenge the legitimacy of the game. Sure, there are other reasons why the Super Bowl's ratings dropped so much -- an uninspired halftime show; multiple ways to see the Super Bowl ads (without watching); the Patriots.... again!; and the simple fact that the game was dull.
But New Orleans and the Gulf Coast helped tank the ratings in a big way. Last night's game had just a 26.1 rating in the New Orleans TV market, which represents slightly better than 26% of their TV households tuned in. Compare that to last year's game, which had more than double the audience in New Orleans . In fact, the only other time in recent memory that the game didn't get at least a 50 rating was when the Atlanta Falcons (the Saints hated rival) blew a 25-point lead and lost the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots.
We don't get overnight ratings for Mobile/Pensacola; and while I expect they'll be higher here than in New Orleans, expect them to be way down from previous years.
To add a little insult to injury,Major League Soccer had its MLS Cup Final at the same stadium. And the attendance for MLS Cup was much higher for that game than it was for Super Bowl LIII. There's probably an actual reason for that -- i.e., the NFL made fewer tickets available, but it's a nice salve for Saints' fans wounds anyway. And really, the NFL held back nearly three thousand tickets?
All of this is quite a statement to the NFL, which should have done much better following the bungled officiating in the NFC Championship Game. If it had been just the awful non-call, fans would have been upset. Fans would still be questioning the integrity of the game. But the NFL, as it often does, compounded its problems by not saying or doing anything about it. Nothing was said publicly until a full ten days after the no-call. They never apologized, something that would have helped cool things down a lot. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did take time out to lie in his Super Bowl news conference , even claiming he'd talked to Saints players about it afterwards. He didn't .
And then there is CBS Sports, the network that carried the game. In a story at CBSSports.com , a pundit took time to mock the impact a Super Bowl boycott by Saints fans would have, saying "... boycott all you want, Big Easy; the NFL probably won't even notice ." Yeah, that story aged well...
Saints fans in New Orleans kept busy with other things -- a sold out music festival called Boycott Bowl, a massive Second Line to celebrate their team and their city, and probably a lot of folks just stayed home and watched a show they'd been meaning to see.
My wife and I were among many who didn't watch. We saw Green Book instead (I'd give it Best Picture), and we had a nice dinner at the Original Oyster House. All in all, a much better night than watching a dull game that would just keep this die hard Saints fan thinking about what could have been.