Super Bowl XLVIII: A Final Look at the Colossal Numbers

On Sunday February 2nd, 2014, Super Bowl XLVIII will kick off between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks in a game that is expected to exceed previous numbers on all fronts. Let’s take one final look at the most important quantifiable categories that will make this year’s contest the biggest the sports world has ever seen.

First off, the television viewing audience on Sunday is projected to surpass the record 111.3 million people who watched 2012’s Super Bowl XLVI matchup between the New England Patriots and New York Giants. There are two big reasons for this. Let’s start with the venue: one that will bring fans the first-ever cold weather outdoor Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XLVIII is taking place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (home of the NY Jets & NY Giants). Over 47 million tourists flock to New York City every year, proving that the Big Apple is quite a draw even without the pandemonium associated with your average Super Bowl.

Officially, MetLife Stadium has a capacity of 82,566, but it’s almost surely going to top this. For perspective, AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) has an official seating capability of 80,000, but 2011’s Super Bowl XLV between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers had a near-record total of 103,219 attendees with standing room included, a total which was slightly less than the record 103,985 who packed into the Pasadena Rose Bowl for 1980’s Super Bowl XIV between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams. It will be interesting to see how close this year’s Super Bowl will get to the 100k attendance mark.

Therefore, all one needs to do is add the novelty factor of an outdoor, possibly sub-freezing championship game with the allure of the highest-populated city in the United States and these two ingredients alone are enough to draw the interest of your average sports fan. Then, consider the teams involved and you’ll know exactly why this year’s viewing audience is predicted to shatter records.

The Denver Broncos come into the game boasting the league’s No. 1 offense, helmed by legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, who will undoubtedly go down as one of the NFL’s greatest players ever. This could be Manning’s last run at a title, as he seeks his second Super Bowl trophy in three tries and the first wearing a Denver uniform (Manning defeated the Chicago Bears with his original team, the Indianapolis Colts, in 2007’s Super Bowl XLI, and lost to the New Orleans Saints in 2010’s Super Bowl XLIV). On the other side of the ball will be the Seattle Seahawks’ No. 1 defense, led by superstar cornerback Richard Sherman. It is the fifth time a Super Bowl has pitted the league’s top offense against the top defense with the top defenses winning 3 of the previous 4 (most recently Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 when Tampa Bay knocked off Oakland). It will be a contrasting mix of fire and ice on the field, a concoction that has stoked the anticipation of the entire sports world.

Due to this extreme interest, the Fox Broadcasting Company will reap a windfall from advertising revenue on gameday. This year’s cost of a 30-second television spot will average around $4 million, a 10% increase from last year’s previous high. For those of you who like math, that’s around $133,000 per second for companies to try to persuade viewers. Well worth it? They sure think so. And it is estimated that this year’s broadcast will contain over 52 minutes worth of commercials including the halftime show sponsored by Pepsi, so that calculation provides a product of $416 million from advertising intake. Wow.

Finally there are the numerous betting lines and enormous dollar amounts expected to be wagered on this year’s game. Denver opened as 1-point favorites back on January 20th, and they now sit at –2.5 going into Sunday, which reflects the balanced nature of this matchup in the eyes of the betting public. The over/under for the game currently sits at 47.5, a modest uptick from the opening total-score betting decision of 47 points. Considering the fact that Denver averaged 38 points per game this season and Seattle only gave up 14, this is really going to be a clash of strength on strength when Denver has the ball. Will Seattle be able to score on Denver’s suddenly superb defense? The Broncos’ D gave up just 17 points in a playoff victory versus San Diego on January 12th and only 16 points to Tom Brady’s Patriots on January 19th. Seattle has been winning with defense all year, so signs point to a low scoring affair on the field.

Regardless, the betting public will have its say, whether it be on the point spread, point total, or prop bets like the coin flip, length of time for the National Anthem, total number of turnovers, first type of score, number of rushing and passing yards accrued…the list literally goes on and on. This year, over $10 billion (billion!) worldwide is expected to be wagered on the Super Bowl in some form or fashion, with legal sports betting in Las Vegas nearing the $100 million mark.

Are you in an office pool or will you be picking squares on Sunday? Then you’re a participant in the worldwide action too! It’s what makes the game so fascinating, on top of all the other intriguing and staggering numbers associated with the greatest show on earth.

Have fun on Sunday. And know that you are part of these amazing numbers discussed here. The Super Bowl is literally a cultural phenomenon that we can count on each and every year.

Dan Krier is the host of Walk the Line for Impact Sports.