I live in France. I don’t know much about US football, but I occasionally try to watch, because I really care about rugby and US football is like rugby’s demented cousin. But like everybody else, I enjoy a good music show and a very good ad once in a while. And I follow the ad industry professionally. Because of all these things, the way I follow the Superbowl is simply to be on the internet the day after. I get to read a little bit about the game. And, most of all, my social streams (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr) automagically curate the best, funniest ads of the game, as well as the video.
Except not this year.
This year, almost nothing.
I know the Seahawks won, but the game was boring.
I know the game was in New York City, but New York City didn’t give a damn about it (and people took hours to get in and out of the game, even though the stadium is in the middle of like five dozen freeways).
I know Bruno Mars played, and apparently, the performance was, well, good?
But most strikingly of all, I didn’t see any ads. I had to work to see the Coca-Cola ad, but only because of the political controversy around it (and that’s never good).
Usually, the day after the Superbowl, I know my friends on Facebook and the people I follow on Twitter and Tumblr will serve me up with great videos of the funnest parts of the Superbowl. But not this year. This is just one anecdata point, sure, but given how much I use social media, I do think it’s relevant.
And here’s why.
Everyone is wondering when the internet is going to eat TV and make it useless. The millennials are not watching TV anymore, and unplugging. And nobody likes TV ads, they don’t work, what you need is online marketing on social media, and so on.
I used to think that this narrative was mostly bunk–yes, it would happen some day, but only in the very distant future, because for the most part people love TV, and people love watching TV, and TV ads do work because they hold your attention for 30 seconds which is way better than any internet ad does (or almost).
And within this narrative, the one point of light, the one point of optimism, was about live events. Especially sporting events. Especially the Superbowl. Sure, people can DVR and pirate and Netflix and whatever TV shows, but when there’s a big, must-watch TV event, particularly a live event, particularly a sport event, people will tune it, and that remains a golden business opportunity (helloooo, ESPN). And the internet actually makes those into more compelling business opportunities, because of the second screen phenomenon. Now people will watch an ad AND talk about it on Twitter AND you can market to them on their second screen once they’ve seen the ad.
And if there’s one must-watch, live, TV, sporting event, it’s the Superbowl.
And yet… the day after, almost no one (yes, that I am connected with, but I am connected with a lot of people) seems to be talking about the Superbowl. Or, more worrying from a business perspective, the ads.
Maybe the collapse of TV is happening faster than I thought. Because from where I’m sitting, it looks like nobody won the SuperBowl this year.