Report: Half of Super Bowl Viewers Will Watch for Ads

The Super Bowl is a shoot-out between the NFL’s two best teams, but only slightly more than half of the game’s viewers will be watching for the football, according to a new report from Lightspeed Research, a unit of WPP’s Kantar.

The report, based on a survey of 2,000 online respondents earlier this month, found that nearly as many viewers will be watching for the ads, the halftime show or “just for the fun of it.”

Fifteen percent said they’d tune in primarily for the ads. Apparently, the hundreds of millions of dollars that Anheuser-Busch has spent on Super Bowl ads over the years has paid off. Viewers (29 percent) anticipate commercials from the brewer more than any other advertiser, the research found. By comparison, 8 percent said they were most anticipating seeing spots from Coca-Cola; 7 percent named Pepsi; and 5 percent look forward most to seeing or Doritos ads.

Lightspeed also found that 30 percent of respondents will watch because it will let them participate in a social activity with family or friends.

When it comes to specific demographics, fewer than half of 18-34-year olds will watch the game primarily for the football, and one in five women will watch for the commercials.

New technologies will be connecting viewers to the game more closely than ever. Nearly 60 percent of smartphone users will be sending e-mails or SMS messages about the Super Bowl, and 18 percent will be checking out ads on their phones. The same number said they’d visit advertiser Web sites. About a third will be posting comments about the game on a social network.