The company now puts Sunday’s total audience at 112.7 million viewers, not the 100.7 million tally circulated the day after the game. The revision stems from Nielsen’s “Out of Home” metric, a recent addition to the ratings measurement toolkit that is favored by sports broadcasters and other specialty networks. It found that 12 million more people watched the Super Bowl at other people’s parties or at bars, restaurants, hotels or other venues.
Without the extra 12 million, the total rating across the CBS Television Network, CBS Interactive, NFL digital, Verizon Media mobile and ESPN Deportes posted the lowest number since Super Bowl XLIII in 2009. Because Nielsen created the Out of Home rating in 2017 to better capture the rapidly multiplying number of screens in the U.S., it isn’t possible to do many historical comparisons with past Super Bowls.
CBS said in a press release that the out-of-home number “provides a more comprehensive view of linear TV viewing habits and a more complete picture of media consumption.” The network is certainly not the first to point to viewing outside the home (which today can also mean places like airports, elevators, gas stations, banks and gyms) as a lost opportunity to get fair value from advertisers. There is an entire cottage industry devoted to “place-based advertising” targeted to viewers outside of their homes.
When CNBC dropped Nielsen in 2015, it said the company had undercounted the number of its core viewers watching from trading desks and offices. ESPN had been indicating similar restlessness before signing on as Nielsen’s launch partner when it rolled out the Out of Home offering in 2017. CBS jumped aboard the service in 2018.