Super Bowl a Home Game for Most Americans

by Mark Gillespie

About two in three plan to watch the Steelers and the Seahawks

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Millions of people worldwide will be watching one show on Sunday, the unofficial American holiday known as "Super Sunday." The National Football League expects Super Bowl XL to be available in up to 235 countries and territories around the world, and ABC's final NFL telecast should be one of the most watched television programs of the year in the United States.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Jan. 20-22, 2006 -- before fans even knew which teams would be in the Super Bowl -- found 64% of American adults plan to watch the game. That is consistent with similar pre-Super Bowl polls conducted in 1992 and 2000.

The Super Bowl is a major American tradition and gives people an excuse to have a party. While big celebrations are likely to take place in Pittsburgh and Seattle, whose Steelers and Seahawks will play for the NFL championship, as well as at the game site in Detroit, most Americans who say they will watch the game will do so from the comforts of their own home. The vast majority of viewers (81%) say they plan to watch the game from home. Thirteen percent will watch the game from the home of a friend (9%) or relative (4%). Only 1% plan to watch the game from a bar. A few poll respondents -- though amounting to less than 1% -- indicated they would be attending the game in person.

A majority of likely Super Bowl viewers will watch the game with four other people or less, which indicates they are watching the game alone or likely with just their immediate family members. Thirty-one percent will watch the game with a small gathering of people (between 5 and 10). Fifteen percent will likely watch from a more festive atmosphere, consisting of more than 10 other people. On average, though, the typical viewer expects to watch the game with four other people.

Eighty-seven percent of those who plan to watch say they'll be focused on the game "very closely" or "somewhat closely" -- which means they'll likely watch more than just the commercials.

To be sure, there is a gender gap when it comes to watching the Super Bowl, just as there is for America's favorite sport. While football is the favorite sport among women (25% in the Dec. 5-8, 2005 poll), 54% of women plan to watch the Super Bowl. Seventy-six percent of men plan to watch the game, and 45% rate it as their favorite sport.

However, a more surprising gap is apparent when one looks at income levels. One would expect the Super Bowl to be highly popular among all income groups, but the data show that lower-income Americans are much less likely to watch the game: Just 55% of those whose household income is less than $30,000 plan to watch, compared to 73% of those earning $75,000 or more.

In fact, the December poll shows that this income disparity extends to fan support for football in general, although on a more condensed basis: 40% of those earning $75,000 or more identify football as their favorite sport, compared to 25% of those in households with incomes of less than $30,000 annually.

Football is Top Spectator Sport

The Super Bowl has such wide appeal because, as poll results indicate, football is apparently America's real "national pastime" and has been for a long time. In the Dec. 5-8 Gallup Poll, 34% of Americans said football is their favorite spectator sport -- nearly three times as many compared to baseball and basketball, the next most popular. In fact, football is the one thing virtually every demographic group can agree on in America -- it ranked number one among men and women, as well as every racial, economic, and political group.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,006 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 20-22, 2006, as well as a similarly selected national sample of 1,013 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 5-8, 2005. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. For results based on the sample of 648 adults who plan to watch the Super Bowl, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

22. What is your favorite sport to watch?

2005
Dec

2004
Dec

2003
Dec

2002
Dec

2001
Mar

2000
Mar

1998
Nov

1997
Apr^

1995
Apr

1994
Sep

1994
Aug

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Football

34

37

37

37

28

33

36

30

32

37

35

Baseball

12

10

10

12

12

13

16

14

16

16

21

Basketball

12

13

14

13

16

16

12

17

15

13

11

Auto racing

5

5

5

5

6

5

3

7

2

2

2

Ice hockey

4

3

5

3

3

5

3

3

3

1

3

Ice/Figure skating

3

4

6

4

4

4

2

2

2

3

3

Tennis

3

2

1

2

2

1

2

2

2

3

2

Soccer

3

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

1

2

2

Golf

2

2

3

2

4

5

3

5

4

3

3

Boxing

1

1

2

1

2

2

1

2

1

1

1

Wrestling

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

*

1

Volleyball

1

--

*

--

1

--

--

--

--

--

--

Rodeo

1

1

*

1

1

*

*

*

*

*

*

Fishing

1

*

*

1

*

*

1

*

1

*

*

Gymnastics

*

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

*

Motocross

*

1

*

--

1

--

--

--

--

--

--

Bowling

*

*

*

1

*

*

1

*

1

*

*

Swimming

*

*

*

1

*

*

--

--

--

--

--

OTHER

4

4

4

2

4

3

6

7

7

5

5

NONE

13

12

9

10

12

8

9

6

10

12

10

No Opinion

*

1

*

1

1

1

1

1

2

2

1

* Less than 0.5%

^ WORDING: What is your favorite sport to follow?

Long Term Trend


Football


Baseball


Basketball

Auto
racing

Ice
hockey

Ice/Figure
skating

%

%

%

%

%

%

2005 Dec 5-8

34

12

12

5

4

3

2004 Dec 5-8

37

10

13

5

3

4

2003 Dec 11-14

37

10

14

5

5

6

2002 Dec 5-8

37

12

13

5

3

4

2001 Mar 26-28

28

12

16

6

3

4

2000 Mar 30-Apr 2

33

13

15

5

5

4

1998 Nov 20-22

36

16

12

3

3

2

1997 Apr 18-20 ^

30

14

17

7

3

2

1995 Apr 17-19

32

16

15

2

3

2

1994 Sep 16-20

37

16

13

2

1

3

1994 Aug 8-9

35

21

11

2

3

3

1992 Sept

38

16

12

2

4

2

1990 Feb

35

16

15

1

3

2

1981 Jan

38

16

9

1

2

2

1972 Oct

32

24

9

2

4

1

1960 Dec

21

34

9

*

3

1

1948 Apr 9-14

17

39

10

1

3

*

1937 Mar 24-29

23

34

8

1

2

1

* Less than 0.5%

^ WORDING: What is your favorite sport to follow?

52. Do you plan to watch the Super Bowl this year, or not?

Yes

No

No
opinion

2006 Jan 20-22

64%

34

1

Trends for comparison: asked in rotation with other items.

Yes

No

No
opinion

2000 Jan 25-26

65%

35

--

1992 Jan 16-19

67%

31

2

53. How closely do you think you will be watching the game -- very closely, somewhat closely, not too closely, or not at all?

BASED ON 648 ADULTS WHO PLAN TO WATCH THE SUPER BOWL

Very
closely

Somewhat
closely

Not too
closely

Not
at all

No
opinion

2006 Jan 20-22

50%

37

11

2

*

* Less than 0.5%

54. Where do you plan to watch the game? [OPEN-ENDED]

BASED ON 648 ADULTS WHO PLAN TO WATCH THE SUPER BOWL

2006
Jan 20-22

%

In own home

81

In a friend's home

9

In a relative's home

4

In a bar

1

At the game/In the stadium

*

Other

3

No opinion

2

* Less than 0.5%

55. About how many other people, if any, do you think will be watching the game with you? [OPEN-ENDED]

BASED ON 648 ADULTS WHO PLAN TO WATCH THE SUPER BOWL

2006
Jan 20-22

%

None

9

One-two

23

Three-four

19

Five-six

17

Seven-ten

14

More than 10

15

No opinion

2

Mean

7.3

Median

4

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