Super Bowl Betting: TV Rating Prop Bets

Super Bowl Betting:  TV Rating Prop Bets

One of the best strategies for attacking Super Bowl props betting is to isolate wagers that you can win regardless of what happens in the game itself. While many of the statistically based prop bets are directly determined (or at the very least have some correlation to) the way the game plays and who wins one widely available prop bet doesn’t. While it’s not available at Nevada sports books (who are limited to what happens on the field by state gaming regulations) a very common proposition bet offshore focuses on the TV ratings for the Super Bowl.

Although there is some correlation to the teams involved it’s not as significant as you’d think. Furthermore, the nature of TV viewership and the NFL audience circa 2014 has created ‘megatrends’ that make one side of this proposition a very strong play.

We’ll start with an explanation of what the Nielsen TV ratings mean. TV ratings are divided into two categories called ratings and share—the ratings number reflects the number of TV sets that are tuned to a particular program while the share refers to the percentage of TVs in use that are tuned to a particular program. Each rating point translates to approximately 1,142,000 TV households or 1% of the overall potential audience of 114.2 million television households. Note that this overall number is in decline for a variety of reasons, most significant being the growth of the Internet and the many alternative ‘media delivery sources’ it facilitates. For example, the 2012 number of total television households is over 500,000 fewer than the 2011 number. This is good for our purposes since we don’t have to consider broader trends of TV viewership in handicapping this wager. In theory, we do need to consider other methods by which people can watch the Super Bowl—the most significant being streaming online. At present this is a small but growing percentage of the audience but it probably won’t have much impact on the bet.

The last four Super Bowl games have each set a new TV ratings record with the last three games weighing in at 46 or higher. The 2011 game had a 46 rating with 111,000,000 viewers and the 2012 game had a slightly higher total viewership (111.3 million) but a full point higher rating at 47. The 2013 game had a rating of 46.3 and a total viewership of 108.9 million. We’ll look for these trends to continue—at least on the Nielsen rating. The total number of viewers should continue to decline as more non traditional viewing options become available but in theory at least the shrinking TV audience will be less likely to utilize those methods. The betting position below also provides us with a nice hedge—it’s possible to win both but almost theoretically impossible to lose both. We won both of these bets last year employing a similar strategy and nothing makes us think that it won’t work again this year.

Bet TV Rating for Super Bowl OV 47.5 -120
Bet Total Audience for Super Bowl UN 112 million +100