WASHINGTON  —  Commonality is a tough factor to search out within the U.S. in the present day. Streaming providers and the web have fragmented how we devour information and leisure, and the partisan divide in Washington affected the place we dwell to our shopper decisions. 

Not all the pieces is cut up down get together traces, nonetheless, and we will thank the NFL and the annual sporting/cultural occasion referred to as the Tremendous Bowl. 

Even if you’re detached to soccer or actively dislike it, it’s exhausting to argue in opposition to the sport’s significance as a cultural adhesive for People. Its influence might be seen in a variety of numbers. 

The NFL stands above its counterparts in skilled baseball, basketball and hockey by way of individuals who name themselves followers. 

Greater than 4 in 10 American adults, 44%, say they’re followers of the NFL, based on a brand new ballot from Ipsos. That’s 13 factors increased than baseball, at 31%, 20 factors increased than the NBA, at 24%, and 26 factors than hockey, which stands at 18%. 

That’s a formidable quantity for the NFL in a world the place a rising variety of media shops and distractions vie for our consideration. And, much more spectacular in a rustic the place the political pink/blue divide appears omnipresent, the NFL appears to drift above the fray. 

Within the Ipsos survey 44% of Democrats mentioned they had been followers of the NFL and 45% of Republicans mentioned the identical factor — a uncommon space of partisan frequent floor.  

Moreover, the dearth of partisanship over the league goes again greater than a decade, when the partisan wars had been much less intense. Again in 2007, when the query was phrased barely otherwise, 56% of Republicans and 50% of Democrats mentioned they had been NFL followers. So even because the nation has grown extra divided politically, the NFL has been one thing of an exception. 

And all that fandom and bipartisanship have impacts on the underside line. It makes the NFL a rankings powerhouse — one of many final true shared leisure experiences within the U.S.  

However simply how dominant is the NFL? Of the highest 100 most-viewed broadcasts within the nation final yr, 82 had been NFL video games. 

Lots of these video games are common season contests drawing 25 million, 26 million and 27 million viewers, based on the positioning Sportico. For comparability, the premier of the TV present “Yellowstone” was thought of a smash hit final yr with 16 million viewers. 

Capturing 82 of the highest 100 broadcast audiences in 2022 is a report for the NFL, nevertheless it follows a rising development over the previous few years. In 2021, the NFL had 75 of the highest 100 broadcasts. In 2020, it was 69 of the highest 100 broadcasts. 

That’s not essentially a ringing endorsement of the league’s product. An enormous motive the variety of NFL slots on the highest 100 listing continues to develop is media fragmentation in all places else. Yearly there are scores of recent streaming dramas, sitcoms and movies, however there’s just one NFL that broadcasts video games dwell.  

Nonetheless, regardless of the motive, the NFL is the king of TV viewership in terms of sheer viewers dimension and influence. And once you take a look at the Tremendous Bowl, the numbers are virtually incomparable. 

Of the highest 30 most considered broadcasts in U.S. historical past, 29 are Tremendous Bowls. On prime is the Tremendous Bowl in 2015, with 114 million viewers, however final yr’s sport clocked in with a decent 101 million. 

The one broadcast within the prime 30 that was not a Tremendous Bowl was the finale of “M*A*S*H” in 1983, which garnered a tremendous 106 million viewers. That’s sufficient to put it at No. 9 on the all-time listing. And that’s again when the inhabitants was solely 233 million. Immediately it is greater than 330 million. 

To be clear, nearly as good as these viewer and fan numbers are for the NFL, the long run for the league isn’t all blue skies. The inherent violence and hazard within the sport are not possible to disregard.  

An NFL participant virtually died on the sector this yr, and a Boston College examine that seemed on the brains of 376 deceased NFL gamers discovered that 92% of them suffered from CTE, power traumatic encephalopathy. Mother and father more and more appear leery of letting their youngsters play soccer, and sooner or later followers might flip away. 

However as of now, the NFL and the Tremendous Bowl supply one thing that’s briefly provide within the U.S., a standard expertise. In some ways, Sunday’s sport represents the final true shared display in a divided nation.