Last week Nielsen reported that this season’s NFL games averaged 1.7 million Hispanic viewers – up 17 percent since the 2012 season. Stephen Master, head of the global sports group at Nielsen, said that number was even higher in households where Spanish is the dominant language.
“Their viewership increased 28 percent over the last five years," he said, "which is pretty phenomenal.”
So, it’s not just Hispanic kids growing up the U.S. watching football. It’s their parents, too. Freddy Rolón, vice president of programming and business initiatives for ESPN Deportes, which will air the game in Spanish, said the Super Bowl is more than just two teams battling on the football field.
“The Super Bowl kind of transcends sports to some extent," he said. "It’s a cultural event, and Hispanics in the U.S. want to be part of that.”
The cultural event certainly includes the commercials. About one third of the ads on NBC’s Spanish simulcast last year were in English. This year, with CBS airing the game in English, almost all of the ads on Deportes will be in Spanish. Tim Baysinger, a staff writer at Adweek, said it's a matter of companies wanting to appeal to a specific audience.
“It behooves marketers and advertisers, if they’re going to buy time on the Spanish broadcast, to better cater to that audience,” he said.
But the majority of the Hispanic population still greatly prefers soccer. The World Cup Final two years ago drew 1.1 billion viewers worldwide. Of the 110 million Super Bowl viewers over the last five years, an average of just 10 percent of those households were Hispanic.
But these are new fans. Marissa Fernandez, the NFL’s director of fan strategy and marketing, said the league is allocating resources to engage the Hispanic market.
“As the population grows, luckily for us, a lot of them are becoming fans and we see that as part of their acculturation process," she said. "There’s more and more momentum to put together specific plans to capitalize and accelerate the growth.”
And some elements of Hispanic culture have certainly pervaded other parts of Super Bowl Sunday. There’ll probably be wings and beers at many Super Bowl parties, but the California Avocado Commission also said Americans will consume 140 million pounds of avocados on Sunday. Which is a lot of guacamole.