It's the one day of the year when drinking American beer is not only acceptable, but almost obligatory. NFL Super Bowl Monday (AEDT) in Australia means big business for the deadest day on the hospitality calendar, quickly catching-up and even threatening to surpass the Melbourne Cup in terms of social events and viewing audience for a daytime/weekday event.
When the last of the Budweiser has been drowned, the carcasses of a million buffalo wings crushed and the cayenne pepper sauce Gerni-ed off fingers, approximately two million Australian NFL fans are expected to have watched the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas. The "Taylor Swift effect" – along with an Aussie influence in 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky - could push that figure well beyond 2m, with the TAB framing a market on how many times Tay Tay will appear on screen supporting boyfriend Travis Kelce.
Wade Kelly, the CEO of Gridiron Australia, remembers watching a Super Bowl with just a few diehards at Sydney's Cheers bar a decade or so ago. "I think that was really the only destination in Sydney showing it," Kelly told Yahoo Sport Australia.
"We (GA) are involved in two events this year that sold out within days of their release. "In recent years it has exploded. You only have to look across mainstream and particularly social media to see the amount of interest there now is in American Football. "I don’t think it's any secret that the ratings for both Fox via ESPN and Channel 7 on NFL are going off the charts."
Kelly believes Super Bowl will become – if it’s not already – the biggest annual international sporting event among Australian fans. And he has a warning for rival codes.
"The way in which Australians, particularly younger generations, consume sport/any content has shifted dramatically," Kelly said. "Long gone are the days where viewers are restricted to what’s on free time air or even cable.
"Streaming and short form SM (social media) is now the norm, and it's the NFL and NBA that dominate those platforms. Australians also love heroes and villains. The NFL celebrates those individuals very, very well. It’s a global audience now and it's hard for other sports to compete.
"You only had to see the NRL and AFL guys last week 'fanning out' over (Tom) Brady to get an indication of the stardom the league has. There must be at least 1000 Super Bowl events in bars around the country next Monday."
Super Bowl Monday frenzy
A Clubs NSW spokesperson confirmed as much, saying: "The popularity of the Super Bowl in the NSW club industry has boomed over the past decade, with clubs right across the state preparing to host special events. "From Twin Towns Services Club in Tweed Heads to Panthers Penrith, hundreds of NSW clubs will be streaming the Super Bowl live and offering special American-style menus, including hot dogs, Philly cheesesteak rolls and buckets of Budweiser beers."
As Kelly quite rightly noted: "Watching the ‘greatest show on turf’ in a bar with your friends decked out in NFL gear and eating hot dogs and wings is not a bad way to spend a Monday in February."
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