The Super Bowl is the largest single U.S. sporting event. More than 110 million people watch the game—whether in person or on television. Super Bowl LI will be held on February 5 at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
The production of the Super Bowl is a complex and expensive operation. To cover the overhead of this great undertaking, a 30-second TV spot will cost advertisers upward of $5 million. That will just begin to defray the avalanche of Super Bowl expenses.
One Super Bowl charge that people may not think about is the cost of power. Lighting and climate control consume massive amounts of power. So too does television coverage, which requires portable lighting and other devices. At the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans during Super Bowl 2013, the electrical consumption was so expansive that there was actually a power interruption. Since 2013, Super Bowl hosts have taken measures to avoid more power interruptions by working closely with power companies to ensure a steady supply of electricity. In addition, backup generators are now common fixtures at the Super Bowl in case the event temporarily overwhelms the grid.
Of course, the power usage and associated costs spread far beyond the stadium. The Super Bowl will be viewed on approximately 30 million TV sets around the world. The show will include five hours of TV coverage. People tend to watch the game on their biggest and brightest TV screens that typically consume an average of 125 watts of electricity an hour (or 1.25 kWh). The 30 million TV sets will collectively consume around 37.5 GWh, a lot more than the electrical consumption of some countries and many U.S. states for the same number of hours.
The electrical consumption does not end there. People watching at home will use their air-conditioning or heating systems, depending on their location. They will also throw Super Bowl parties, which will eat up even more electricity. The total electrical consumption for home Super Bowl viewers is expected to reach a staggering 75 GWh. At the current cost of electricity, this translates to about $8,250,000.
The electrical consumption at the football stadium is estimated at about 50 MWh for the game, costing $5,500. All told, the Super Bowl is expected to cost around $25 million in power consumption, but ask any stakeholder and they will likely say that America’s favorite game is well worth the expenses.