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What’s a hotter media topic, Super Bowl 50 or the presidential election?
If you’re one of the estimated 189 million who are expected to watch, stream or follow Sunday’s big game—or if you’re a fan of the Panthers or Broncos—you might say the “most super of all Super Bowls” is all anyone’s talking about. If you’re a political junkie and Election 2016 enthusiast, you might err on the side of the tight presidential primary race.
Either way, you’d be right. Kind of.
It’s certainly no secret that coverage of the candidates has become a daily breaking news topic in America’s newsrooms. Fierce rivalries have surfaced as President Obama prepares to exit the White House, and an atmosphere has been created in which everything from front-runner lead changes to casual comments on the trail become front page stories. Adding fuel to the media fire is the fact that primary races on both sides are only getting tighter.
What does all this media coverage have to do with football? Quite a lot, actually. Super Bowl 50 is the first event to even come close to challenging the firm grip of primary season on media coverage. It may seem counterintuitive that with only eight days between the Iowa caucuses and the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary, there would be a chance for media coverage to wane. Not so, according to our media monitoring.
Even as the calendar creeps closer to the next primary election, media coverage of the Super Bowl is on the rise. In fact, Sunday’s big game now enjoys nearly the same share of voice as coverage of the presidential race in general. What’s more, according to the LexisNexis analysis of all print, radio, broadcast and digital media in the U.S., Super Bowl coverage has officially surpassed that of the top five presidential candidates combined.
As in every election season, media coverage will shift again. Share of voice and sentiment will fluctuate week by week, day by day, hour by hour… that much is true. But it’s also true that Sunday’s Panthers-Broncos matchup is almost as exciting to Americans as this year’s race to the White House. Could it beat out election-related coverage by Sunday? Or will the fever of Election 2016 continue to dominate news cycles?
Just like the outcomes of the primaries, it’s impossible to predict with 100 percent certainty. But our analysis will soon tell the story.
UPDATE: The Super Bowl officially intercepted some of the Election coverage in the final two days prior to the New Hampshire primaries.