According to new estimates by the National Retail Federation (NRF), Super Bowl Spending will drop by approximately $1 billion in 2017. Consumer spending on and around the Super Bowl exceeded 15 billion in 2016, and this year it is expected to drop to 14 billion for Super Bowl 51.

The NRF estimates are based on the organization’s yearly Super Bowl Spending Survey which concluded that approximately 188 million people will watch the game, and in doing so, spend approximately $75 apiece. This represents a drop from last year’s per capita spending of $82.

This considerable drop in spending has led to some speculation about the future of football, prompting questions like “Could this be the end of football as we know it?” However, such ponderings are likely premature.

Estimates from other organizations like Nielsen pegged last year’s Super Bowl viewership at closer to 111 million, calling into question the clarity and precision of the estimated billion-dollar downturn in spending. As with any prediction, nothing is certain until after the fact.

Super Bowl Spending: Other Predictions

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This downturn may occur for many reasons, including depressed spending due to general economic worries, lower viewing costs or simply a one-off. The one-off hypothesis is the most likely explanation, given that spending has gone up by approximately 20 billion since 2006 ($90.75 billion), although it has leveled off somewhat since 2011 ($11 billion).

The second most likely explanation is that viewing costs are becoming more affordable. According to the Super Bowl Attention Playbook by Visible Measures, a social video measurement agency, online viewership for Super Bowl 51 is set to skyrocket, not to mention become the “biggest online video event of all time.”

Head of Marketing for Couponbox Sezer Yurdakul commented: “The surge in online viewership may have an effect on how people consume products and media related to the Super Bowl, but it is unlikely that it will negatively affect future spending long-term.

“As consumers become more savvy and savings-conscious about any product, it is not guaranteed that they will spend less. Instead, they will spend smarter. We see this every day on Couponbox.com. Our site’s visitors are among the most savvy in the country. I believe that the Super Bowl spending downturn is more likely related to smart shopping at retailers that offer coupons rather than decreased spending.”

Mr. Yurdakul’s position on the matter coincides with the NRF survey results, which states that 80 percent of planned Super Bowl purchases for 2017 will go to food and beverage spending, not viewing costs.

Super Bowl Viewership

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According to Sports Media Watch, 2016’s Super Bowl 50 had approximately 112 million viewers. The all-time highest number of viewers was in 2015 when there were approximately 114 million viewers. Online viewership in 2016 was 3.96 million.

Super Bowl Attendance

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This year, the 51st Super Bowl will take place on February 5th at 6:30 pm at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Since the first Super Bowl in 1967, a total of 3,889,920 people have attended the games.

The highest attendance for a single game was at Super Bowl 14 in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl on January 20, 1980 where there were 103,985 people in attendance.