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Super Bowl LI: A National Holiday, But a Win in Local Markets

3 minute read | February 2017

It’s an annual tradition and no secret that the Super Bowl reaches people far and wide across the U.S. Viewers tune in for the game, the halftime performances and the commercials, making it an engaging event for everyone, not just football fanatics. This year, the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons faced off for Super Bowl LI. The Patriots made a dramatic comeback to take the game to overtime, the first in Super Bowl history, and defeated the Falcons with a 34-28 win. Tune-in for the game was high, as roughly 111.3 million people watched, generating a U.S. household rating of 45.3.

But how did the game perform throughout local markets?

To find out, Nielsen took a look at the top 70 metered markets* (Local People Meter {LPM}, Set Meter and Code Reader) to get household and demographic data into who tuned in to watch the game.

Local People Meter Markets

It comes as no surprise that, much like previous years, the teams’ respective hometowns drew the largest ratings. In LPM markets, Boston and Atlanta were in the top three markets for household ratings, accompanied by Pittsburgh, which had the highest household rating in 2017.

Boston, Atlanta and Pittsburgh also each ranked No. 1 across select demographic breaks. Pittsburgh ranked the highest for persons 25-54, a critical demo for advertisers, and also ranked No. 1 among persons 18 and older. Atlanta was runner-up for the most viewership among persons 18 and older. It also pulled in the largest adult female audience and the fourth-largest male audience. Atlanta also ranked fourth among LPMs for the coveted person 25-54 demo. Boston, the champions’ hometown, attracted the biggest rating for persons 2 and older (48.3), driven by high viewership among males 25-54.

Set Meter Markets

In set meter markets, Buffalo ranked No. 1 across five out of 15 demographic breaks. It also ranked No. 1 for household ratings for the second year in a row, with a 57.3 rating. Dayton had the largest rating among persons 18-49 and persons 25-54. Norfolk and Hartford each saw high ratings among certain groups, including males 18-49 and males 25-54.

Code Reader Markets

In code reader markets, audiences skewed younger, with high ratings coming from the 18-49 and 25-54 demos. Charleston was the number one code reader DMA across nine of 15 demo groups. Among the 18-49 and 25-54 demos, Charleston ranked No. 1, with ratings of 55.0 and 56.4, respectively.

Live sporting events are known to bring millions of people across the country together, and the Super Bowl is no different. People tune in to watch the game that they’ve been anxiously waiting for since the beginning of the season, with hopes that their favorite team makes it to the end and comes out victorious. As seen in the ratings, audiences in local markets are very engaged, offering a huge opportunity for marketers to reach them.


Nielsen Local People Meter markets comprise 25 of the top television markets in the U.S.Nielsen Set-Meter markets comprise 31 mid-sized markets in the U.S.Nielsen Code Reader markets comprise of 14 medium to small sized markets in the U.S.

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