The Super Bowl remains one of the biggest events in American television for the ad breaks as much as the game itself. But what was the most engaged content around the Big Game? We looked at the data for Super Bowl LIV to find out.

We looked at the top stories about the event overall and stories specifically about the ads that aired. Let’s begin by looking at the web coverage for the event as a whole. 

Most engaged content for Super Bowl LIV

Interestingly, the majority of the very top coverage of the Super Bowl was not actually coverage of the game itself, though narratives stemming from the game did receive broad engagement. The top article came from NBC 4 and was about Chiefs player Derrick Nnadi celebrating victory in the game by paying the adoption fees of shelter dogs. This received more than 1.5 million engagements. 

Chart showing the most engaged web articles about the Super Bowl in 2020

There was generally a theme of focusing on individuals rather than the team within the top stories, as narratives of individual players and people involved in the broader Super Bowl zeitgeist were written about with a Big Game framing. 

The only other article to garner over a million engagements about the Super Bowl in the three days either side of the game was Sports Illustrated’s write up of President Trump’s tweet congratulating the “great state of Kansas” on their win, when in fact, the Chiefs play in Kansas City, Missouri. 

The third top story was about Patrick Mahomes being the third black quarterback to win the Super Bowl and the significance of that moment, which garnered around 860,000 engagements. 

There were also stories about those who did not play on the field, with Demi Lovato’s national anthem performance and Jennifer Lopez’s daughter’s appearance in the halftime show both making the highly engaged headlines. 

In terms of the publishers that saw success around Super Bowl LIV content generally, Fox News and its local affiliates came out comfortably on top, with 4 million engagements. This was followed by TMZ, NBC, and People in a clustered chasing pack, each of them garnering between 2.3 million and 2.5 million engagements. 

Histogram showing the most engaged publishers writing about Super Bowl LIV

As we mentioned, however, there is a whole sub-audience of people that watch the Super Bowl not for the game itself but for the commercials between the plays, so we also looked at the data around that.

The top ads of the 2020 Super Bowl

On a technical level, to conduct this search we used a boolean search of “Super Bowl” AND (ad OR advert OR commercial) to see how the ads were talked about across the web and social. We broke this down by engagement to web articles, Facebook post interactions, Twitter interactions to some top commenters, and YouTube views of ads that were uploaded to YouTube in one form of another. All data is accurate as of the morning of February 4th.

Chart showing the most engaged web articles about Super Bowl ads in 2020

For web coverage, there was a fairly wide spread of articles and companies referenced. The top article came from BuzzFeed, and referenced Jason Momoa’s performance in a Quicken Loans ad. Interestingly, the focus was much more on Momoa himself than the product he was there representing. Quicken Loans was not even mentioned in the title of the piece, nor in any of the three other pieces in the top ten that referenced the commercial. 

The political ads that aired also received a good deal of attention from the media, with a piece about an ad honoring the American flag the second most engaged, and an article questioning the statistics in Mike Bloomberg’s ad was the third most engaged. 

Other companies that drove highly engaged web coverage were Google, Dorito’s and Jeep, all of whom featured in the top ten. For Google, this was thanks to an ad that tugged on the heartstrings, while Dorito’s and Jeep featured Lil Nas X, Sam Elliott, and Bill Murray in their commercials. 

On Facebook the story was a little different. UNILAD featured as the top story with its own coverage of Jason Momoa, and then Donald Trump took the other top two places with postings about his own ads on Facebook. 

Chart showing the most engaged Facebook Posts about Super Bow ads in 2020

Interestingly, only half of the top posts were native video showcasing the ads themselves, while half were links back to websites that featured the ad.

Earned media coverage of the ads tended to get more engagement overall than Facebook posts about the ads, with the top article getting 3x the engagement of the top post. 

For tweets about the Super Bowl, there was a mix of cynicism and celebration at a roughly even split. Donald Trump had the top tweet, again referencing his Super Bowl ad, while Alice Marie Johnson also referenced the ad, albeit without mentioning the President by name. 

Chart showing the most engaged tweets about the Super Bowl ads in 2020

Some of the tweets even saw more engagement than Facebook posts, and the total engagement for the top ten tweets about Super Bowl ads was higher than for the top ten Facebook posts overall. 

On YouTube we looked at the number of views a video had had, and we went back to include the whole month of January in our analysis, as sometimes teasers or even full ads are uploaded to the platform in advance. 

Chart showing the most viewed Super Bowl ads on Youtube in 2020

Amazon had the most views on its ad by a considerable distance, with 50 million views of its #BeforeAlexa spot starring Ellen DeGeneres. At 18 million, Secret Deodorant had the second most views, but this was also the commercial that saw the most dislikes overall, with more than 4x the number of dislikes as any of the other big commercials. When we measured the number of likes, Rick and Morty’s Pringles crossover came out on top, with 100,000 likes on the video. 

Overall, what worked on different platforms varied fairly widely. Jason Momoa stole the spotlight on the web, while the political ads saw high engagement on Facebook and Twitter. For the second year running, Amazon had a very successful Super Bowl ad on YouTube, with almost 50 million people having viewed it. 

If you’d like to monitor historical, real-time, and predictive story performance for yourself, check out NewsWhip Spike