February 9, 2010: The New Orleans Saints won Super Bowl XLIV over the Indianapolis Colts, and Saints quarterback Drew Brees was named the game's MVP. But there were two other distinct winners on Sunday, Feb. 7: The NFL and Sun Life Financial.
Super Bowl XLIV reached a total viewing audience of 153.4 million, making it the most-watched show in U.S. television history. In addition, a record average of 106.5 million viewers watched Super Bowl XLIV, which topped a mark that has stood for 27 years when 106 million watched the series finale of M*A*S*H in 1983, which also was on CBS. The Colts-Saints Super Bowl topped the previous total viewing mark of 151.6 million total viewers set last year when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, and also was an 8% increase over last year’s Super Bowl, which attracted 98.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
While all of these numbers bode well for the NFL, another company basking in the sunlight is Sun Life Financial, which in mid-January acquired naming rights to the stadium that hosted both the Super Bowl and on Jan. 31 the NFL Pro Bowl.
Industry analysts said that Sun Life paid about $7.5 million per year for a five-year deal. In return, Sun Life received more than $26 million in media value during the Super Bowl broadcast on CBS through 68 sequences that included verbal mentions, on-screen text and stadium signage, according to Front Row Marketing Services, a sports and entertainment marketing company that specializes in commercial rights sales.
In 2009, Raymond James Financial earned about $37 million worth of broadcast exposure on NBC from 6 minutes and 16 seconds during Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, according to Front Row.
The stadium signage deal has been part of Toronto-based Sun Life's aggressive campaign to carve out a larger piece of the financial category. The company's U.S. division recently launched a multi-media marketing campaign, "Get to Know the Sun Life," from The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.; a separate campaign, "Life's Brighter Under the Sun," has been airing in Canada and is expected to get air time during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver from Feb. 12-28.
Since Super Bowl XXIII in 1989, the stadium now know as Sun Life has hosted five Super Bowls and has had several name changes, including Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium and, from May 2009-Jan. 5, 2010 Land Shark Stadium. It currently is home to the NFL's Miami Dophins, the University of Miami football team, the FedEx Orange Bowl and MLB's Florida Marlins, which are scheduled to move into their own stadium in 2010.
Members of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee said that they plan to vie for Super Bowl XLVIII in February 2014, the site of which will be named by the NFL this coming May.
"Sun Life Financial has obtained the tools and competitive edge to increase brand awareness through the sponsorship of Sun Life Stadium," Eric Smallwood, vp-Project Management for Front Row Marketing Services, said in a statement. "The amount of broadcast exposure that Sun Life Financial has received in the past has proved to be a great asset for the company and with the new naming rights deal they will continue to increase their competitive edge within their market." Front Row Marketing Services, a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor, is based in Philadelphia.
Super Bowls account for the 19 most-watched programs in history in terms of total audience. The top five are:
• Super Bowl XLIV (Colts-Saints), 2/7/10
• Super Bowl XLIII (Cardinals-Steelers), 2/1/09
• Super Bowl XLII (Giants-Patriots), 2/3/08
• Super Bowl XXXVIII (Patriots-Panthers), 2/1/04
• Super Bowl XL (Steelers-Seahawks), 2/5/06
Source: NFL, Nielsen Media Research