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Which Super Bowl match-up will score the NFL's biggest audience?

Shawn M. Carter

The race to Super Bowl LIIV is down to four teams. Each has a unique appeal and a loyal NFL fan base, that will contribute to just how many people watch the game on TV on Feb. 2

The Super Bowl is perennially the highest-rated program on TV every year. This year it comes down to the Chiefs, 49ers, Titans and Packers. Most network executives or advertisers would tell you they would like to see New York Jets versus the Los Angeles Rams because that would pit the two largest television markets against each other (there has never been a Big Apple vs the City of Angels matchup in the big game).

So which teams present the next best options?

According to Neilsen, the Niners home of San Francisco is the 8th largest TV market followed by Nashville and the Titans at 27th. The Chiefs in Kansas City are not too far behind with the 32nd largest TV market. Back in Packer country in Green Bay the area represents the 67th largest TV market. So on paper, it would seem that the 49ers and the Titans would represent the best chance for a big audience.

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But there are always intangibles. Stars can drive tune-in and there are few more exciting players on the field these days than Chiefs quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.

Green Bay may not be a huge television market but it is a team rich in tradition as the team has played in its original city longer than any other team in the NFL. The Pack first took the field in 1921. But beyond history, the team also boasts a national following and a likely future Hall of Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers -- the star of several State Farm commercials. Recently he was joined by none other than Mahomes in some ads, so a Packers vs Chiefs pairing would make fans of the TV spots as well as insurance giant State Farm very happy.

Comeback stories can also generate interest and the 49ers -- winner of five Super Bowls -- are back in the title game for the first time since 2013. The Titans have a comeback tale too in its quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was injured in Miami and eventually discarded by the Dolphins which quietly traded him to Nashville. He was inserted into the Titans line-up after the team struggled to a 2-4 start and led the team to playoff glory.

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Data firm Nielsen tracked TV ratings and viewership for the NFL’s big game dating back to 1967 when the league played its first official Super Bowl. All four teams have played the game before. Here's a look at how each team performed off the field and on the screen.

San Francisco 49ers:

When Colin Kaepernick and the Niners took on the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, viewership was through the roof. The game, which featured a halftime show from megastar Beyoncé, drew in nearly 109 million TV viewers and ended in a 34-31 Ravens win.

Green Bay Packers:

With star quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the Packers rolled over the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 31-25 win, marking Rodgers and former head coach Mike McCarthy’s first Super Bowl victory. The 2011 game pulled in 111 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

Tennessee Titans:

In one of the NFL’s most nail-biting games ever, the St. Louis Rams (now of Los Angeles) squeaked out 23-16 win against the Titans that came down to the last play. Nearly 90 million people tuned into the 2011 game, which featured star quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Steve McNair, plus Christina Aguilera and Phil Collins at halftime.

Kansas City Chiefs:

The last Chiefs’ Super Bowl was nearly a half-century ago. The 1970 matchup versus the Minnesota Vikings ended in a 23-7 Chiefs win, in which 39 million people saw on TV.

When it comes to this season, viewership is already up. Rounding out the two weeks of playoff action so far, viewership rose 5 percent to an average 32 million viewers per game. Divisional-round game viewership ticked up 2 percent to 33.2 million viewers versus 32.6 million viewers in 2019. It was the most-watched divisional-round in three years.

And there’s more on the line than viewers: The NFL, which brought in about $15 billion in revenue this past season, is looking to make much more for the Super Bowl in advertising.

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In advertising revenue alone, the league raked in $400 million for the big game last year. Some newcomers tot his year's game -- which will pay in the neighborhood of $5 million for a 30-second spot -- include social media giant Facebook and video game streamer Twitch.

President Donald Trump and Democratic hopeful Michael Bloomberg also took out a $10 million spots each, which will feature 60-second videos touting their qualifications.

The Super Bowl will air on Feb. 2 on Fox, live from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

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