Super Bowl XLVIII

Despite dipping in viewership last year for the first time since 2005, Super Bowl XLVIII is expected to exceed the record 111.3 million viewers from 2012. According to Forbes, there’s a trio of reasons why: the ratings, the matchup, and the weather.

Below is the breakdown.

Ratings: Despite such off the field concerns as concussions and bullying, the NFL had a very strong regular season in 2013; their five television partners reported an increase of 5% in viewing from 2012. ESPN ’s Monday Night Football audience grew by 7% in 2013 from the previous year and recorded its best year since 2010. Similarly, CBS also had its best season in three years with a 5% growth in viewing. The NFL’s own cable network airing of Thursday night games resulted in its fifth consecutive year of audience growth. NBC Sunday Night Football averaged nearly 22 million viewers (+2%) and is on pace to be prime time TV’s top rated program for the third straight broadcast season. Fox , which will televise the Super Bowl, grew its audience by 6.5%, the network averaged over 21 million viewers in 2013 making it the watched season since they began broadcasting NFL games back in 1994.

Matchup: Prior to the start of the season many football analysts had picked the two teams as the best in their respective conferences. Both teams come into the Super Bowl with identical records (including post season) of 15 wins and three losses and were seeded first in their respective conferences. This is only the second time in the past twenty years that teams with the best record in their conferences are facing each other in The Super Bowl. While a close game is not guaranteed, one reason why The Super Bowl has been on a ratings upswing has been the recent competitiveness of the big game. Five of the last six Super Bowls have been decided by a touchdown or less. A close game keeps football fans tuned in (along with the ads) and that increases ratings.

Weather: Another factor is the site of Super Bowl XLVIII, the New York/New Jersey region. It marks the first time the Super Bowl will be played outdoors in a cold weather location. By comparison, the last three Super Bowls in New Orleans, Indianapolis and Dallas were played in either a domed stadiums or a stadium with a retractable roof. Leading up to the game, more attention will be paid to the weather forecast in the New York metropolitan area than in recent memory, further heightening interest.