What Will The Future of The Super Bowl Look Like?

More than any major sports league, the NFL relies on systemic change.

Next year, the NFL will begin the first season of its 10-year media rights cycle, with Disney’s ESPN, NBCUniversal’s NBC Sports, Fox Corp.’s Fox Sports, Paramount’s CBS Sports and Amazon’s Prime Video running through the 2033 season.

But once those $110 billion deals expire, all bets could be off.

After leading the fight against sports betting, the NFL made a complete about-face. It now has a sportsbook on the same page as this year’s Super Bowl.

Over the decades, the NFL expanded its regular-season schedule from 12 to 14 to 16 to 17 games. To hell with Major League Baseball-style historical player stats. This league is all about the future.

In its quest for a year-round sport, the league successfully turned the formerly sleepy NFL Draft into a must-see TV show. The predatory NFL invaded the rival NBA stronghold on Christmas Day. Next year there will be a game on Black Friday for the first time.

What’s stopping a global pay-per-view bonanza from beating all pay-per-views? What about playing the NFL championship across the pond?

Let’s hop in the time machine and talk about the future of the Big Game.

What if it’s not free?

How much would you pay to see the Super Bowl in 10 years?

Yes, the NFL has built its popularity on free television, broadcasting all Super Bowls over wireless networks, including this Sunday’s Super Bowl 57 on Fox Sports.

But you never say never — especially with the NFL potentially capable of taxing hundreds of dollars per capita on households.

Former ESPN President John Skipper boldly predicted that the Super Bowl would eventually leave broadcast television in favor of a paid streaming or PPV platform. If sports fans are willing to pay to see Floyd Maywather fight Logan Paul in a show boxing match, then surely they’re also paying to see the biggest and most important sporting event of the year.

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“Super Bowl – take that with pay-per-view,” Skipper told Dan Le Batard. ‘So they’ll replace them [advertising] money one day.”

PPV expert Joe Hand Jr. told Front Office Sports that a Super Bowl PPV would easily break the record for highest-grossing PPVs of all time, saying the NFL could easily charge $200 per house.

Subscriptions and VR

In ten years, media consultant Patrick Crakes sees the Super Bowl placed behind a paywall.

It will be a paywall that doesn’t exist yet – but one that will have enough subscribers to reasonably replicate the reach of television today.

“Think of it as a natural progression from a standalone TV broadcast system to today’s hybrid system and across to a system with just a few paywalled video providers that is on the scale to replicate the current retransmission fee and advertising revenue model, which is nearing exhaustion a high-margin economic source,” said the former Fox Sports executive.

John Kosner, a former ESPN executive, agreed with Skipper’s PPV theory. But only up to a point.

Yes, there will be PPV options for future Super Bowls. But not in the way we define PPV today, he said.

By the mid-2030s, he sees the NFL keeping the Super Bowl on free-to-air TV — but also selling a variety of lucrative high-tech viewing options to fans.

Fans will be able to purchase virtual reality headsets that will immerse them in the game, he predicted.

There will also be 3D volumetric video, giving customers the same on-field view as the quarterbacks. Not to mention a ton of new audio, stats, and co-viewing options for sale.

“We’ve probably never seen such a great spectacle as the Super Bowl,” said Kosner. “We might just have to pay something for it.”

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future of betting

The NFL has deals with Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet and WynnBET, and Sunday’s game will be the first to feature a sportsbook on the same property as a Super Bowl venue.

With about two-thirds of states offering some form of sports betting, the American Gaming Association predicts that 30 million people in the US will place a legal sports bet on this year’s Super Bowl — a 66% increase over last year’s game.

Leigh Steinberg, the legendary agent representing Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, sees betting evolving and growing over the next decade.

But Steinberg said there is a potential downside.

“You have to be very rigid,” Steinberg told FOS. “The existential threat to professional sport is the concept that the games might not be played on an equal footing. And if they ever suspected someone was holding back their performance [due to betting]it would be a disaster.”

Cathy Lanier assumed the position of chief security officer of the NFL nearly two years before the Supreme Court’s May 2018 decision that allowed all states to offer state-sanctioned gambling, as Nevada had done for decades.

“It has always been part of my job. It’s a bigger part of my job now,” she told FOS. “Like everything else we do, it’s about relationships. We have very good, well-established relationships, both with [state] regulators together with the sportsbook itself. If there are breaches of the policy, we take them very, very seriously.”

Last year, the NFL suspended Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley and New York Jets receiver coach Miles Austin for violating the NFL’s gambling policy.

arms race

The viewing and betting experience isn’t the only thing that could change – the in-person experience is getting bigger and better.

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An arms race is taking place across the country to host the country’s most popular sporting event. The key: a shiny new stadium.

Last year’s Super Bowl, for example, was played at the new SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. Events have only been held in the facility since 2020.

The next Super Bowl will be at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas – which also opened in 2020 to accommodate the Raiders’ move to Sin City.

To attract the league, teams like the Titans and Bills have released billion-dollar plans for new stadiums.

The Titans are working on a $2.1 billion project for a 1.7 million square foot stadium with around 60,000 seats. The stadium will not only have a transparent roof, but also a panoramic view of the city. In Buffalo, the Bills are working on a $1.4 billion stadium that could be ready by 2026. Both are set to receive massive public funding.

Others, like the Dallas Cowboys, are investing millions in renovations — even at stadiums less than a decade old.

International waters?

The goal outside the stadium is also important to the NFL. Finally, the league is interested in using the event to build fan bases in new regions.

If you thought Las Vegas — once an outcast from sporting events — was an unexpected future host, try a city that’s not in the United States or even North America. It’s more than possible that a future Super Bowl could end up in the UK, Europe or Mexico.

Regular-season games in London and Munich were popular and commissioner Roger Goodell said he would be keen to place not just one, but two teams in London. Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur FC were reportedly interested in hosting the Super Bowl at their London stadium.

Whether or not the overseas ambitions materialize, one thing is certain: we can’t expect America’s favorite moment in sports and entertainment to stay the same forever.

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