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Super Bowl predicted to have the hugest audience yet — and record bets, too

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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) (L) and Los Angeles Rams Quarterback Matthew Stafford (9).
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The 2022 Super Bowl between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams is projected to reach a record audience, and betting around the contest could surpass $7 billion.

The viewership projection comes from data analytics firm PredictHQ, which estimates the National Football League’s championship game will attract 117 million viewers on NBC’s network, the host of this year’s Super Bowl. That would be an increase of 21% compared to the 2021 Super Bowl, which attracted 96.4 million viewers, the NFL’s lowest audience since 2007.

PredictHQ projections would also surpass the top-rated Super Bowl in 2015 between the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. That contest drew 114 million viewers on NBC and still ranks as the most-watched show in television history.

“It’s high, but it’s something our models have been looking at,” said PredictHQ CEO Campbell Brown of the 2022 Super Bowl projection. “And we’re always calibrating and making sure our models are on point,” he added.

A fan wearing a super boal jacket walks past a giant picture of Los Angeles Rams Cooper Kupp during the Super Bowl Experience at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 5, 2022.
Keith Birmingham | MediaNews Group | Getty Images

Using demand data

PredictHQ uses consumer buying behavior around live events to help forecast demand for companies, including Uber and quick-serve restaurants like Dominos. The San Francisco-based tech company also has a deal with Amazon under whichPredictHQ’s software serves as Alexa’s “event brain” – helping the device answer inquiries about live events.

“We’re the ones feeding Alexa that information,” Brown said. “We’re the only ones doing it,” he added. “We’re making our customers more real-world aware.”

For its Super Bowl 56 projection, PredictHQ is using buying behavior around the game and factoring in “team performance, game outcome uncertainty, star players, location, and prior NFL viewership.”

PredictHQ projects Super Bowl 56 will reach roughly 13.3 million viewers throughout California, and 4.2 million people in Ohio, which will be watching the first Super Bowl that includes the Bengals since the team lost to the 49ers in the 1988 NFL season. The Bengals are 0-2 in their Super Bowl game appearances.

Brown, who labeled PredictHQ a “demand intelligence” company, said the firm predicted last year’s Super Bowl viewership total with a 99.6% accuracy rate two weeks before the game.

–PredictHQ did not estimate viewership around the 2020 Super Bowl as it rolled out its demand intelligence product later that year. But it did project viewership for the Kansas City Chiefs versus Buffalo Bills AFC divisional matchup last month.

Brown said PredictHQ estimated that AFC showdown would reach roughly 46 million viewers. The official number was an average of 42.7 million viewers, peaking at 51.6 million. Brown said PredictHQ’s projection was around “the sweet spot” of the final figure.

The NFL is coming off a rebound for its 2021 season after the pandemic impacted sports in 2020. The league said conference championship games averaged 49.6 million viewers. That’s up 10% from the 2020 games and up 16% compared to 2019 conference title games.

PredictHQ also factored in the return of spectators throughout 2021, which Brown says will make Super Bowl 56 more watchable.

Other firms are also predicting healthy business around Sunday’s game.

Loop Capital Markets determined a Bengals-Rams Super Bowl matchup would drive new TV sales for Best Buy. In addition, Macquarie Capital points out NBC sold out of its ad inventory, charging $7 million per 30 seconds in some deals. That’s more than the $6.5 million it set for inventory throughout 2021 and up from the $5.5 million ViacomCBS charged. The network will broadcast the game for the first time since 2018.

“This speaks to the popularity of the sport this year, where ratings were up 10 percent overall, and to the underlying strength of the ad market,” the firm wrote in a Feb. 4 note to clients. “Advertisers also get more value for their ($7 million), with their ads appearing on the Telemundo broadcast as well as Peacock stream.”

Omar Marques | LightRocket | Getty Images

Sports betting projected to hit record handle

On the sports gambling front, the American Gaming Association projected on Tuesday that a record 31.4 million Americans would bet $7.6 billion on the Bengals-Rams game. That’s up from $3.3 billion wagered on the 2021 Super Bowl between the Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chiefs.

AGA estimates 55% of gamblers will bet on the Rams winning Super Bowl 56, while 45% are betting on the Bengals.

Still, Jim McIngvale, better known as “Mattress Mack,” bet $4.5 million on the Bengals to win. Data from FanDuel shows the Rams as the favorite to win by four points or less, but 59% of its handle is on the Bengals. Also, as of Tuesday, DraftKings’ data shows 54% of its handle on the Bengals, too.

Sports betting is now legal in 30 states and Washington D.C. Last month, New York finally arrived on the market and lured a record $1.6 billion in wagers. It became the top sports betting market in the U.S surpassing New Jersey.

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