Super Bowl Sunday could blast ratings charts

Well, despite the fact that the team from one of the top television markets in the U.S. didn’t make the Super Bowl (ahem, New York Jets), television nuts are still predicting that this year could be the most-watched game in history.

I’m rooting for ABP – Anybody But Peyton.

Industry research firm IBISWorld is predicting a record-breaking 100 million viewers will tune in to the big game, an increase of 1.1 percent from last year’s 98.7 million viewers. That, by the way, was the largest audience ever for the Super Bowl.

In its prediction, IBISWorld cites the poor economy, which is causing consumers to turn to cheaper forms of entertainment, and the hoopla surrounding the game – Super Bowl parties, half time show and commercials (the number of 30-second spots has increased from 55 in 2007 to 62 in 2010).

Just a little side note: “most-watched” isn’t that phenomenal when you think about it. The U.S. population is growing every year so almost by default the audience numbers will grow. What’s really impressive is a high rating, meaning the percentage of households with a television. And guess who’s got the record for that one? That’s right, my good ol' San Francisco 49ers when they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI on Jan. 24, 1982 in front of 49.1 percent of U.S. television households. Now that’s a captive audience.

Sorry. Just had to point that out.

Anyway, if I’m reading the tea leaves right, it seems like this upcoming Super Bowl has a shot at not only having the most viewers but having one of the highest ratings ever…maybe even the highest-rated since NBC drew 46 percent of households for Dallas Cowboys-Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 28, 1996.

NFL television ratings this year have bumped up in general. But when you look at the playoffs the picture is even more clear: Jets-Colts averaged 46.9 million viewers, the best for the AFC final in 24 years, peaking at 54 million.

Meanwhile Vikings and Saints averaged an insane 57.9 million viewers. (And may I point out that’s the highest figure for an NFC championship game since "The Catch" by San Francisco's Dwight Clark beat the Dallas Cowboys in 1982. That audience peaked at 65.2 million. OK, now I’m really done. I swear.)

And with the story lines of Peyton Manning (have the Colts replaced the Cowboys as "America's Team?") versus the Ain'ts-turned-Saints the drama could be high two Sundays from now. I think this Super Bowl has what it takes to give advertisers the most bang for their buck than they've gotten in quite a while.

Unless of course the Saints turn it over three times in the first half and the Colts get anything greater than a 14-point lead....then you'll hear the resonding click of remotes everywhere as they tune into ESPN to watch the PBA tour.