Planning on tuning in to the Big Game? In 2023, over 115 million people did – a new peak. The annual championship football game is an iconic American tradition. Whether you’re watching for the thrill of the athletic competition, the musical guest half-time performance, or the cream of the crop of television commercials, many people gather for watch parties… even if only for the party food essentials like nachos and buffalo wings.
Grab your chips and salsa as we dig in to how much people spend to celebrate this tradition.
Big Game Spending
Large-scale national events can inject some cash into the economy as consumers spend en masse – but how much? In 2023, it’s estimated that total consumer spending for the game was $16.5 billion, up from the prior year but down from the peak in 2020 (some might say good timing on that one). This consumer spending has increased over time; even adjusted for inflation, 2023’s spend was more than 2008’s, 15 years prior. All that spending on new TVs, streaming service subscriptions, food and drink, and football themed paper plates and napkins really adds up!
Estimated Big Game consumer spending in the United States from 2007 to 2023
Now let’s look at what individuals spend. In 2023, the average consumer spending in the United States on the Big Game day was $85.36, down from a peak of over $89 in 2015. Some things that make up the spend are food and beverages, the cost to watch the game, equipment, and gambling.
Average consumer spending on the Big Game in the United States from 2011 to 2023
How much individuals spend to tune in partially depends on how they watch. CNBC reported that in 2023, 52% of Americans planned to watch the game from home, while 20% planned to host. Whether watching at home, a party, a restaurant or bar, 66% planned to spend money on food and drink for the game.
Speaking of food – the cost to host (or bring a dish to a potluck) depends on the food you prepare, and some common menu items are more prevalent than others. A 2023 analysis of the top snack search terms has revealed what snacks reign by state. If you’re preparing Delaware’s favorite snack, the crab ball, you’ll likely want to budget more than if you’re making tater tots – the top choice of five heartland states.
In the past when having cable television was the norm, you could just turn on the TV and flip to whichever network was hosting the game that year. But in this age where so many people have cut cable, this means it can be a scramble to find out how to tune in, especially for people who do not regularly watch football or other live sports.
In 2024, CBS will play the game (and Nickelodeon for a family-friendly edition). If you don’t have cable or satellite TV, you can stream the game from Paramount+ on a variety of devices. Check out their guide here on how to tune in to the Big Game. You may also be able to get the CBS channel (and others) on a digital tv antenna if the signal is good in your area. If you want to go this route, test out the antenna ahead of time so you can tell if it’ll reliably work before game day.
Going to the Big Game
If you’re hoping to watch the game in person, prepare to spend a good chunk of change. The largest line item is likely to be tickets. The price of tickets has been rapidly increasing over the years. Prior to 2008, the tickets were under $1,000. Now, expect to spend at least six times that. Yes, you read that correctly!
Most of the tickets to the game are offered to season ticket holders via a lottery system, so only a small percentage are available to the general public. If you buy directly, the tickets start around $9,000 for a package deal with extra perks beyond just the seat ticket. If you just want the ticket, for the 2024 game, the lowest they have been on the unofficial resale ticket sites has been over $6,000 per ticket.
After you’ve secured your tickets, you’ll also need transportation, lodging, and food during your trip. In 2024, the game is in Las Vegas which has over 150,000 hotel rooms so there are plenty of options. However, the increased demand will come with a price increase. For example, looking at MGM Resorts hotel options in Las Vegas, hotel rooms are currently going for at least $500 a night for that weekend with some being over $2,000 a night. Unsurprisingly, vacation rentals further away from the stadium are a much more affordable option.
For tips to book your hotel, transportation, and other travel essentials while staying in budget, check out our blog on how to plan vacation on a budget.
Marc Butterfield, Sr. Vice President here at Milli, had a chance to attend the game in person once. When asked how he handled the costs and discussion around whether to splurge and attend he said, “In the 2006-2007 season, my favorite team (the Saints) were having a surprisingly good season. So, as the season wrapped up, I told my wife that I wanted to start saving for the Big Game. (There was always an agreement that if the lowly Saints ever made it to the Big Game, I would go.) After they won in the second round, they only had the Bears to beat in the conference championship game. I booked my flight using my savings, but I didn’t have a ticket yet. Sadly, the Saints lost to the Bears. However, I figured that I would still fly down to visit my parents. At the last minute, one of my feelers I put out for getting tickets came through. A person had two tickets, and they had to drop out at the last minute. Since it was only a few days before the game, they couldn’t find anyone to give them to. But, since I already had my travel plans, I invited my brother-in-law and we went to the game, even though neither of us were Bears or Colts fans. It was an awesome experience!”
If you’re a diehard football fan and attending the Big Game is a bucket list item for you, start a Jar in Milli and start saving. Just be sure to set a Jar goal of a few thousand dollars per person!
Big Game Spending’s Impact on the Economy
Spending related to the Big Game is spread throughout the country as people everywhere tune in, though much of the spending is concentrated in the city that hosts the game. Analysts often report that the Big Game brings in hundreds of millions of dollars to the host city’s local economy thanks to visitors spending on hotels, food, transportation, and brings an influx in temporary jobs or fully staffed businesses as employees work to meet the demand. However, economists from the University of Delaware point out that these numbers are inflated, especially when the game is in a southern city or existing tourist destination where people are visiting anyway, even without a championship sports game. In 2024, the game is being held in Las Vegas, which is both a spot for snowbirds and tourists year-round, so the economic impact there may not be as dramatic as other possible host cities.
To help your Big Game dollars go further in boosting your local economy, shop locally. Patronize small businesses for your party snacks, visit a local bar or restaurant if you’re watching the game out, and get a taxi or take public transportation to your destination. Go ahead, get those cute little football shaped frosted cookies from the artisan bakery for a festive touch!
To many, watching the Big Game is as American of a tradition as lighting fireworks on the Fourth of July. The resulting spending and economic data show how when we spend on things that matter to us, that can boost our local and national economy.
If you’re looking for an app to help you save more for the things that matter most, check out Milli. We’ve got helpful spending insights, automated savings features, a highly competitive APY, and customizable Jars. You can start saving for tickets or a legendary watch party in case your team ever makes it to the championship! Download Milli from the App Store or Google Play and sign up today.
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