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

Key Points
  • Super Bowl 56 between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams could reach 117 million viewers, according to demand-intelligence company PredictHQ.
  • That total audience would surpass the current No. 1, the Super Bowl in 2015 between the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, which drew 114 million viewers.
  • The American Gaming Association projected that a record 31.4 million Americans would bet $7.6 billion on the Bengals-Rams game.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) (L) and Los Angeles Rams Quarterback Matthew Stafford (9).
Getty Images

The 2022 Super Bowl between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams is projected to reach a record audience — and betting on the big game 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.

That total audience would surpass the current No. 1, the Super Bowl in 2015 between the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, which drew 114 million viewers and is 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."

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 which PredictHQ'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. 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, who will be watching the first Super Bowl that includes the Bengals since the team lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the 1988 NFL season. The Bengals are 0-2 in their previous Super Bowl 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 near "the sweet spot" of the final figure.

The NFL is coming off a rebound for its 2021 season after the pandemic negatively affected sports events the previous year. The league said the conference championship games averaged 49.6 million viewers, which is up 10% from the 2020 games, and up 16% compared to the 2019 title games.

PredictHQ also factored in the return of spectators throughout 2021, which Brown expected will carry over as a plus for viewers of Super Bowl 56.

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 notes that 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 for Super Bowl 55. NBC 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," Macquarie 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

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 last year when the the Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced the 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 arrived on the market and lured a record $1.6 billion in wagers, unseating New Jersey as the top sports betting market in the U.S.

'Mattress Mack' makes biggest mobile sports bet in U.S. history
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