There has been much talk this year about the decline in the NFL's audience and the slow uptake of advertising spots, yet when the lights shone brightest the 'Greatest show on turf' delivered in style.

As Tom Brady led his New England Patriots down the field to tie the game up with just 57 seconds on the clock, the peak audience reached 172 million viewers, 60 million more than the peak in 2016.

As a whole, Super Bowl 51 drew an average viewership of 113.7 million across America, making it the second most viewed championships game in the history of the sport, yet these figures dwarf in comparison to the social discussion taking place around the event.

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The wider Super Bowl conversation (#superbowl #SB #SB51 and #superbowl2017) generated 86 billion impressions from 12 million original posts. Twitter delivered 27.6 million tweets over an eight hour period, peaking at key moments such as Lady Gaga's half time performance and Danny Amendola's two-point attempt to level the game. These worldwide spikes in engagement can be seen in Twitter’s interactive map.

Mobile video the MVP

The most telling metric was the amount of mobile video content consumed around the event. At midnight Sunday, Super Bowl-related videos had drawn a staggering 262 million views on Facebook with 90% of all Facebook interactions occurring on mobile devices – as audiences took to their social second screens to comment on the NFL season's crown jewel.

The NFL has recently relaxed its position with on social video sharing, with Commissioner Roger Goodell looking for new ways to address the decline in viewing figures, especially among Millennials. Content shared via the NFL Facebook page – both live and in real time from Super Bowl 51 – including pitchside analysis from NFL Network personalities, directly influenced the social viewing numbers, a definite step forward for the NFL as they look to capitalize on the migration of eyeballs from linear TV to social and digital video platforms.

Half time ads and social video

This year it cost a staggering $5 million for a 30-second ad slot, brands also took to social media to extend the reach and viewership of their commercial messaging, benefiting from social distribution. YouTube reported consumers watched 350,000 million hours of Super Bowl commercials on its platform during the game itself, with 70% of those views coming from mobile devices.

84 Lumber delivered a half-time ad backed with a strong political message aimed at President Trump and his proposed wall between American and Mexico. Fox rejected the full version of the ad on account of its strong political stance. However, 84 Lumber pushed viewers to its website and YouTube channel to watch the full version titled 'The Journey.'


YouTube displayed three separate versions, the edited Super Bowl commercial, the ending and the full ad in its entirety. At the end of Sunday, the full version was the number one trending video on the platform, remarkable for a company that only had 2642 subscribers. They were not the only winner, social finance company SoFi bet that the Superbowl would go into overtime and booked a TV slot for just $2.5m for overtime related commercial airtime – as Tom Brady and the Patriots won the game their spot aired on TV at 50% fees to more than 110m viewers in the US.

Those brands who did hand over $5million per 30-second ad received a CPM of just over $44, as costs for ad space continue to rise, it will be the brands who take advantage of the opportunities social video providers who end up the New England Patriots of the advertising world.

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