With many sports fans staying at home this year, the SuperBowl LV experience will look slightly different for fans across the US.
This Sunday, reigning NFL champions Kansas City Chiefs will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the Vince Lombardi Trophy in SuperBowl LV. The game will take place in front of a reduced crowd of 25,000 in the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay.
However outside of the stadium, with many fans staying at home and social distancing, the usual celebrations and rituals aren’t able to take place.
Here is a breakdown of what to expect over the SuperBowl LV weekend.
The Halftime Ads
One of the most famous aspects of the SuperBowl, the halftime ads, will have some notable omissions this year. Pepsi, Budweiser and Coca Cola are among the brands that have opted not to purchase one of the coveted ad slots.
For the first time in 37 years, Budweiser will not be airing an ad during the SuperBowl halftime show. Instead, it has relocated its ad spend to supporting COVID-19 relief and awareness. In that venture, the beer brand produced this digital advertisement running across its social channels:
Unlike previous years, the cost of a SuperBowl ad slot hasn’t increased for SuperBowl LV. It also took longer for CBS to sell all of its inventory than FOX did last year. Brands across many industries are still adapting to the closure of public spaces and venues, while others have decided to spend their budget elsewhere.
How will fans be watching?
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of streaming services across all demographics in the US. With consumers focused on in-home entertainment, the use of connected devices such as Smart TVs and smartphones has skyrocketed.
This increase in digital consumption has given sports fans a large appetite for streaming services. Fans are now far more willing to use and for pay for streaming services that carry live sports and highlights, as reported by Grabyo’s At Home Video Trends (US) reports.
Broadcasters and rights holders are taking note, and have focused on building meaningful digital offerings across OTT and mobile platforms.
So much so, that Amazon Fire VP Sandeep Gupta has said connected TV platforms are preparing for “the most-streamed TV event to date” during SuperBowl LV.
US broadcaster CBS plans to deliver all-access coverage of the game on its CBS Sports app, which is available on all streaming devices. Verizon is also leveraging 5G and AR technology to give viewers at home the chance to have an immersive experience during the game using the NFL mobile app.
Fans will also be able to tune in through the NFL app and ESPN Espanyol app for connected TVs.
We’re likely to see more fans watching the game using digital platforms than ever before, with the biggest increase in the use of Smart TVs.
Digital fan engagement
For many, the SuperBowl LV experience will be a two-day event that spans multiple channels and activities. As most fans will be staying at home throughout, publishers and brands have needed to refocus their efforts on digital engagement.
Most notably, the NFL will be hosting a two-hour virtual tailgate on its TikTok channel with special guest star Miley Cyrus.
TikTok has been the fastest growing social media platform over the past two years – it has over 80 million active users in the US – of which 60% are aged under 24.
Incorporating TikTok into its social content mix will allow the NFL to begin building affinity with the youngest sports fans, giving them a chance to discover NFL content on the platform they use most often.
The restrictions that have required broadcasters, publishers and brands to create new ways to engage audiences remotely have led to true content innovation. Both behind and in-front of the camera, the way that content is being produced and delivered is super-serving fans with creative formats and extended access they haven’t seen before.
This SuperBowl LV experience will set a precedent for future big game weekends to come. We may be seeing a blueprint put in place for fan engagement, advertising and content delivery that lasts.