(CNN Spanish) – Super Bowl fever is no stranger to Mexico. In fact, it is the country where more people follow the final game of the American football league after the United States, according to the NFL in Mexico.
The numbers make it clear: the 2020 grand final where the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers was seen by at least 12 million viewers through the main open and paid television channels (Channel 5, Azteca 7, ESPN, ESPN 3, Fox Sports, Fox Sports 2) that broadcast the Super Bowl in Mexico, according to Nielsen.
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Beyond the figures, how has the professional American football league managed to get Mexicans to pay attention to a sport that is played in the United States for one night?
An “old tradition”
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In addition to all the paraphernalia that exists around the event, the Mexican taste for watching the Super Bowl is an “old tradition” that is passed down from generation to generation, as defined by Iván Pirrón, coordinator of AS USA and NFL analyst in W Radio Mexico.
“There are fans who may be in their 40s or 50s and their grandparents saw the first NFL games in Mexico on television, so it is inherited just as the love for other sports such as soccer is inherited. When in a family the father or the grandparents are Americanists, most likely the rest of the family will end up being so… the same thing happens with the NFL.”
Analysts assure that everything goes back to more than 100 years ago when the practice of American football arrived in the country and, since then, it has been the universities where this sport has been promoted the most. But the key is in the 60s, when the games of the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers began to be broadcast on broadcast television.
“This is how the Cowboys and Steelers begin to be the darling of the fans, especially because in Dallas there began to be kickers of Latin or Mexican descent,” Pablo Viruega, ESPN sports commentator, tells CNN. Among these players were Danny Villanueva, Rafael Septién and Efrén Herrera.
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The presence of Villanueva, Herrera and Septien on the Cowboys helped fans in Mexico embrace Dallas as their team, according to Viruega. “And as in any story with a protagonist, there also has to be an antagonist. In this case, the antagonists were the Steelers.”
By the 1980s, there is already an identification of the public with the Super Bowl and it is the winning teams that gain popularity among the Mexican fans. “In the 1980s, the San Francisco 49ers, with Joe Montana and Jeffrey Ray, a team that became a dynasty and won several Super Bowls and also gained a lot of fans in Mexico,” says Pirrón.
From the early 2000s to date, the favorite team of Mexicans is the New England Patriots who won 6 NFL titles under the guidance of Tom Brady. “This is currently the fashionable team among Mexican fans, especially among younger fans,” according to Pirrón.
Tom Brady announced in 2020 his departure from the Patriots, the team that saw him become the most successful quarterback in NFL history. This season he plays with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Credit: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)
An x-ray of the fans
According to analysts, 8 out of 10 fans who watch the Super Bowl are casual fans; that is, they are not interested in the entire season and only get to the final game, either because of the halftime show or because the event itself invites them to meet with friends and family.
“When an event like the Super Bowl comes, all kinds of fans come together, the avid fan and the casual fan,” says Pirrón, who assures that only 20% of the more than 12 million is a fan who followed the entire season.
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It is those 14 minutes without any relation to the sporting event that attract the most spectators. In Mexico, almost 5 million watched the 2020 halftime show. The performance generates a lot of expectation months before the final and a wave of rumors is unleashed about the artists that will participate, except for the protagonist who does make himself known beforehand.
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Primero y Diez, a podcast site about the NFL, prepares a study every year to find out the profile of its audience, which totals 9,000 weekly listeners during the American football season.
Its online shows are among the most popular in Mexico, reflecting an evident devotion to the sport that has led the NFL to host and promote games in the country, even opening a merchandising store selling every team’s jersey. of the league.
“Our fans are, in quotes, old. And that worries us and I think the NFL does too. They are people over 27 years old and the strongest, 40 years old”, says Luis Obregón, founding partner of Primero y Diez.
A fact that Obregón highlights is that of the more than 7,000 respondents in 2021, around 40% travel to the United States at least once a year to watch an NFL game.
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Why do Mexicans love the Super Bowl? – KESQ