Each year, the Super Bowl brings the NFL’s most successful teams together to face off for the title. But do the teams and players that make it to the final two also command the most fan interest?
We did some digging into the search data to identify which NFL teams and athletes are garnering the mostz The numbers can also tell us where the NFL fandom may be headed over time, how online interest in the Super Bowl compares to that of other sporting events, where folks are turning to stream the game, and which Super Bowl commercials tend to generate the most buzz.
Let’s take a look at which teams and players made waves this NFL season before diving into what’s getting fans excited about the big game.
Most-searched NFL teams
The Dallas Cowboys have long been considered “America’s team,” and the data confirms it: they are the most searched of all NFL teams, with a monthly average of 6.3 million US searches in 2022. The Boys’ popularity holds globally too, where the team has been the most searched for the past three years running.
While the Dallas team known for its cheerleaders, owner, and Southern sensibility garnered the most internet searches, it didn’t make the final four in the 2022 season, suggesting that cultural trends transcend team performance in any one year.
This season, the league’s last four teams standing were the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC, and the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC. Where do those teams rank in terms of search volume?
The Super Bowl contender Eagles (with 2.1 million average US monthly searches in 2022) and Chiefs (2.4 million) landed in the top 10 most-searched teams, globally and across the U.S., both this year and over the past three years on average. This suggests their popularity is longstanding, even though the Eagles haven’t made it further than the first round of the playoffs since 2018.
But what about the other two teams from this season’s final four? Neither ranked in any of our lists of top 10 most-searched teams — surprising, given San Francisco’s appearance in the 2020 Super Bowl, while Cincinnati nearly won the Lombardi Trophy last year.
Looking at other top-searched teams, the Buffalo Bills (with 3.1 million average US monthly searches in 2022) and Green Bay Packers (3.1 million) consistently rank high for search volume domestically and internationally, coming in just behind the Dallas Cowboys.
Further, global search volume data reveals that while the New England Patriots were a top 10 searched team based on average values from 2019 to 2022, they drop off rankings based on 2022 search numbers alone.
Could this be because the Patriots lost their superstar quarterback Tom Brady after the 2019 season? Perhaps global searches for NFL teams are more driven by celebrity than team allegiance.
The league’s most-searched players
Speaking of Tom Brady, the five-time MVP is the most searched NFL player across all of our metrics. He brought in an impressive 4.2 million average US monthly searches in 2022, dwarfing the next most-searched player by millions.
Brady’s seven Super Bowl titles, marriage to (and recent divorce from) supermodel Gisele Bündchen, and punted retirement date are all cause for internet buzz. Plus, the face of football confirmed this month that his 2022 season with the Buccaneers had officially been his last in the league, marking the end of an era.
Behind Tom Brady, the most-searched player domestically and internationally is Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, with 1.9 million average US monthly searches in 2022. The three-time MVP has held the public’s attention for good reason, from his record-setting annual salary deal to even co-hosting Jeopardy, not to mention his whirlwind relationship with actress Shailene Woodley.
Who else are top-searched players? Social media-savvy Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, and Russell Wilson are highly popular across both U.S. and global queries.
In all of our top 10 most-searched player lists, the only name that will appear in this year’s Super Bowl is Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes.
Who’s talking about the Super Bowl?
Now that we have more of a handle on the hottest teams and players in the NFL, it’s time to get ready for America’s most-watched sporting event of the year. Who’s talking about the Super Bowl online, and what are they searching for?
It’s clear that people are excited. Global Google searches for “Super Bowl 2023” grew 509% from August to December of 2022, mapping the anticipation as the big game nears.
How does this online activity compare to, say, the World Cup? It’s no shock that global searches for the World Cup dwarf those for the Super Bowl, given how many soccer fans there are around the world. But what you might not guess is that even within the US, people searched for the World Cup more than they searched for the Super Bowl.
US Google searches for “Super Bowl” reached 24.9 million in February 2022, aka the month of last year’s game. But in December 2022, when the World Cup took place, US searches for “World Cup” reached 101 million. Could the allure of an event that only happens once every four years be driving this popularity?
While Super Bowl searches don’t reach the sky-high numbers of the World Cup, there is evidence to suggest that football has become more popular in recent years in the US.
September marks the first month of every NFL season, and from September 2019 to September 2022, US searches for “NFL” grew by 22.3%. This shows not only a full recovery from COVID but also growth beyond pre-COVID numbers.
So how are you going to watch the biggest NFL event of the year? Have you made your plans yet? US searches for “NFL stream buffstreams,” a free way to stream many live sporting events, increased by a staggering 3,100% from February 2019 to December 2022, pointing to the explosion of streaming and viewers seeking alternatives to cable.
The quest for streaming doesn’t end there. In December 2022, the top five queries related to watching NFL games were “NFL stream reddit,” “NFL Sunday ticket,” “Redzone NFL stream,” “FOX NFL stream,” and “CBS NFL stream.” These five most-searched terms were consistent globally and across the US, suggesting the dominance of a few go-to places for viewing NFL content.
Come for the football. Stay for the entertainment
Along with high-stakes athletics and an impressive halftime concert, the Super Bowl has also come to be known for its dramatic new TV advertisement reveals. With more US eyeballs on the screen than any time all year, brands clamor to get their messages delivered in the game’s ad breaks.
Super Bowl commercials have spawned their own frenzy, and the most outrageous ones are often hot topics in the weeks following the game.
After last year’s Super Bowl, both global and domestic searches point to which commercials made the biggest splash — and might do so again this year. The most-searched commercials in February 2022 were Budweiser, Uber Eats, Michelob Ultra, Doritos, and Pringles.
Key takeaways for Super Bowl victory
This Super Bowl, the Eagles and the Chiefs are the obvious topics of conversation ahead of their face-off for the title, but there’s more to the story. Online search trends reveal the social drivers of football’s culture and online ecosystem.
Brands, marketers, publishers, broadcasters, and content creators can gain online visibility by providing information on the NFL and Super Bowl topics that folks are actively searching for. The country’s most-watched event of the year is no time to be silent! You can use Semrush tools like Keyword Overview and Traffic Analytics to stay on top of search trends.
Whether you’re tuning in to watch Rihanna’s halftime performance, see what Doritos came up with for their commercial, root for your favorite athlete, or cheer on your home team, this year’s Super Bowl is sure to be a globally impactful media event.