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Super Bowl Ads: To Stream, or Not to Stream?

When the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs meet at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium for Super Bowl LIV, millions of people will tune in to watch the match-up. While the football game will be the major draw for most people at the Super Bowl party, others will be there to watch those famous commercials that are shown during timeouts. The ads during Super Bowl LIV will air all throughout the game, but for some this won’t be the first or last time that they are seen.

Online ad watching now makes advanced viewing of Super Bowl ads possible. It also allows for the most popular ones to be watched over and over again long after the game ends. A 2019 study done by Pex tracked the viewership of 28 Super Bowl ads around the weekend of the game and determined that they had already been watched over 100 million times before they actually aired on Sunday night. Their study also found a spike in online ad views the day after the Super Bowl, indicating that people were going back to rewatch their favorite ones. Online ad watching has been proven to be an effective marketing tool for those companies who produce the ads that people just can’t get enough of. People can watch their favorite ones as many times as they want before, during and after the actual game.

The ads that air during the Super Bowl average around thirty seconds, but can run anywhere up to a minute and a half. The cost of a thirty-second ad during Super Bowl XLIII in 2019 averaged a little over $5 million. The most popular ads are usually the emotionally moving ones, like the Budweiser commercials that attempt to tug at our heartstrings by using horses and puppies. Other companies create popular ads by using familiar faces, like the 2019 Pepsi ad that featured singer Cardi B, and the Amazon Alexa ad starring actor Harrison Ford. All of these ads received millions of online views after they aired during the Super Bowl.

Photo by: Dave Adamson,

While many people choose to pre-watch and rewatch Super Bowl ads, studies have shown that a significant amount still choose to take the traditional route of just watching the ads when they air on TV. A study done by Qualtrics found that 91% of people said they only watch ads during the Super Bowl, and not before or after. While online watching may be gaining popularity, traditional TV ads are still an effective way of advertising that can reach millions of people at one time.

Television is still the most popular method of watching the Super Bowl, but online streaming is definitely gaining traction. In 2019, about 2 million Super Bowl viewers streamed the game online instead of watching it on TV, which was more than ever before. However, traditional TV viewership for the 2019 Super Bowl won out with viewers totaling around 98 million. FOX will broadcast this year’s game traditionally on TV and will also stream it live online at

In today’s world of technology, viewers have lots of decisions to make other than figuring out what kinds of snacks to have at the Super Bowl party. Stream the game online or watch it on TV? Wait to see the commercials during the game or watch them online beforehand? There is no “correct” choice- both traditional and online viewers are important. So it doesn’t matter if viewers watch the Super Bowl on their laptop or their TV, or if they watch the game itself or just the commercials- the most important thing is that everyone tunes in to see America’s most watched event of the year!

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