Considering the widespread interest in the Super Bowl today, it's hard to believe that the first Super Bowl didn't even sell out its venue. Fans were only mildly curious about the game between the NFL and AFL champions. It was not even shown in the Los Angeles area due to the blackout rule that prevents a non-sellout game from being televised in the area in which the game is played.
Tickets to that original Super Bowl were $6 to $12. Today, Super Bowl tickets are perhaps the most sought-after tickets in sports. The retail price for a ticket to Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 topped out at $1000, but tickets are often resold, or scalped, for many times more than their face value. In 2008, one online broker successfully sold tickets for Super Bowl XLII for $9,850 [source: Bloomberg]. Tickets are divvied up between the conference champions, the host team, the remaining 29 teams, and the NFL. The NFL distributes tickets to the public through a random drawing for the right to buy.
The lucky few who actually attend the Super Bowl are just a small fraction of the game's total audience. Those who can't attend the game watch it on television. In 2008, a record 97.8 million people watched the New York Giants beat the undefeated new England Patriots 17 to 14, representing the second largest American audience in television history (following the finale of M*A*S*H) [source: Nielsen]. The global numbers are more debatable, but the NFL claims it has a potential worldwide audience of nearly 1 billion viewers.
Where there are more than 100 million pairs of eyes watching, there are advertisers wanting to put their product in front of those eyes. In the next section, we'll look back at some of the memorable advertising campaigns that have premiered during the Super Bowl.