A tale of two teams – and their fans – Nielsen - Social Media Explorer
A tale of two teams – and their fans – Nielsen
A tale of two teams – and their fans – Nielsen

The word FanThe word “word” is the source of this phrase Fanaticenthusiast, which is usually a spectator. And on Sunday, February 13, there will be inspiring moments both on the field and on screen–for fans around the globe to experience. 

It’s not surprising that the NFL is the most loved sports league in America. In 2021, 92 of 100 most-watched telecasts were either NFL live games or NFL studio programming. What is surprising, however, is that the two teams headed to Super Bowl LVI rank 27 and 29 (in terms of the number of fans) among the 32 teams in the NFL. It takes more than fans to make it to the big games. Despite the excitement surrounding the end of the season, both teams are likely to win some fans. While this is a tale of two teams, it’s also an epic matchup of two dynamic quarterbacks AndThey were the conference winners.

First, we have the Cincinnati Bengals: an “against all odds” team with an offensive Rookie of the Year wideout, an All-Pro running back and a defensive line–with two of the NFL’s sack leaders–all guided by a Joe Cool quarterback versus the Los Angeles Rams: a team formed through a compilation of coincidences; garnering an outstanding quarterback, supported by a defensive lineup of superstars and a wide receiver—coincidentally from the OtherThe Cleveland Browns, an Ohio NFL team. Another coincidence for the Rams team is that they have a home-field advantage. The league decided the game would take place at SoFi Stadium long before the 2021-22 season started. 

Outside the U.S., fandom is growing

And this Super Bowl experience for fans is going to be exciting everywhere–with NFL.com touting the 2022 ways to watch the Super Bowl across countries and languages. While the NFL is historically an “American” sport, it does have a very large global fanbase, with fandom growing globally through its international games in Mexico and the U.K.

Fans from across the nation

In the U.S. alone, sports programming accounted for 98% of the most-viewed programs across broadcast and 72% of the most-viewed programs on cable television between January and September 2021, with last year’s Super Bowl LV accounting for 20.3 billion minutes viewed. Despite both teams’ rank in fanbases, the NFL is still the most popular sport in both Cincinnati and Los Angeles, with interest levels the highest for the NFL in both markets, trailed only by Major League Baseball. 

Is it really about the game–or the ads?

Due to the NFL’s significant rise in television viewership during the regular season, Super Bowl LVI got off the ground quickly this year. The last few ad units that were still available for sale just last week saw the Super Bowl LVI get as high as $7million for 30 second spots.

Awareness and engagement are key to brands’ efforts to build deeper relationships with their customers. With so much information about customers, marketers have the ability to do even more. Jamie Moldafsky (SMME CMCO), spoke to Forbes recently about consumers’ increasing expectations that brands better understand them, such as their buying habits, preferences, needs, and interests. Brands can use this data to put their customers at the heart of strategies and campaigns that create memorable experiences. Marketers must focus more than ever on the target market and desired behavior, as well as a live insight. While many focus their attention on the Super Bowl’s on-field action, others think about the ads.

Let’s take a look at some of the highest spending brand categories during the 2021 NFL regular season and see how they compare to purchase habits of Super Bowl watchers. 


The automotive category spent nearly $1 billion on ad spots during NFL games and pre/post game shows across factories, dealerships, dealership associations, and automotive accessories–putting autos as the top brand category in terms of ad spend in the 2021 regular season. This will be a good investment for the approximately 19.5 million Super Bowl viewers who intend to purchase a vehicle within the next twelve months. According to SME Scarborough, 18.8% of them plan on purchasing a new/used/leased car, which is 5% more than the general population. 43% plan on leasing a new/used/leased car.

Super Bowl viewers are most interested in SUVs, pickup trucks and midsize cars when it comes to buying a vehicle. 

  • SUV: 40.1%
  • Pickup truck: 26,5%
  • Cars of midsize size 12.6%

Bengals fan in Cincinnati plans to purchase a new car in the next year. However, 7.5% plan on buying a car in the coming 12 months. 46% will buy an SUV. Then, pickup trucks (21.2%) or midsize cars (15.8%). Los Angeles Rams fan, 10%, plans to purchase a vehicle within the next twelve months. 29% will buy an SUV. Pickup trucks (25%), hybrids/EVs (27%), and pickup trucks (25%).  

Restaurants with Quick Service 

The restaurant category is one of the largest TV ad spenders across football programming–and is largely dominated by quick-service restaurants (QSRs). Super Bowl viewers and supporters of each team have strong categories with QSRs and sit down restaurants. 89% national Super Bowl watchers reported that they have used QSRs in the past 30 day. QSR lovers are more popular with the Rams and Bengals than any other group. 

  • A QSR has been visited by 94% Rams fans in the 30 days preceding this article
  • In the last 30 days, 95% Bengals fan visited QSRs


Even though there are many advertisements during football season, beer brands lead the way in alcohol spending.

SME Intel estimates that the beer and wine categories spent $201 million on advertising during the NFL regular season. This included spot TV, cable TV, network television, and TV spots. The alcohol category’s ad spend is dominated by beer brands; however, seltzer has cut into the market share. About 73% ($148 million) of alcohol spend is made by beer brands. However, 26% of total spend in this category ($53 millions) goes to hard seltzer brands.

  • Cincinnati Bengals fan are enjoying light beer. In fact, 36% have consumed light beer domestically in the past thirty days. 
  • The other popular choice is imported beer. 41% of Rams have had an imported beer in their last 30 days. 
  • Super Bowl viewers are 22% less likely to have had beer within the past 30 days than those who watch the game. 

Fans around the globe will watch what is arguably the most important sporting and cultural event of the year as the teams meet on Sunday. You still have enough time for your food and beverages, so if you’re not ready to go this is a great opportunity. And for those not interested in whether the Bengals or the Rams win the game, put on your “I’m only here for halftime show sweatshirt,” fire up social media and enjoy the power of creative storytelling through the ads. 


These insights were drawn from:

SME Paid Under

About the Author

Adam is an owner at Nanohydr8. He really loves comedy and satire, and the written word in general.

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