Study authors love Super Bowl, studies show

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By Ben Klayman

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Ah, Super Bowl Sunday, that time of year when a football fan's thoughts turn to pizza, hunkering down in front of a big-screen television to watch a great championship game ... and reading some studies.

In an effort to ride the coattails of the popular U.S. football game, everyone from university professors and consultants to traders and companies connects what they do to the Super Bowl, no matter how thin the tether might be.

Weeks before kick-off, the news is full of stories about studies. Some analyze the value of tickets compared with gold, others name the most popular foods of game day, or which Super Bowl television ad will be the best -- and worst.

This year's game takes place on Sunday in Miami between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. Already the most watched show on TV each year, as many as one third of 300 million Americans will tune in, according to a Nielsen report.

"The question would be, why wouldn't these polls come out around Super Bowl?" said Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University. "In many ways, this is a holiday that is more universally, actually, celebrated than perhaps any American-created holiday since Lincoln declared Thanksgiving an official holiday."

Some studies examine the business behind the football. Here are some examples:

* The face value of a Super Bowl ticket since 1967 has outpaced the rise of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the price of gold, according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist for broker-dealer ConvergEx Group.

A ticket's face value was $10 back then, he said, but now, it is $800. Forty years ago, the Dow would have bought 85 tickets to the Super Bowl. Today, it would buy 13, he said.

"They are the ultimate inflation hedge," said Colas.

For gold, Colas set ticket prices and the spot price of gold to equal 100 in 1967 when gold was $35 an ounce and the Consumer Price Index stood at 32.9. Today, the ticket stands at 8,000. The gold: 3,179. The Consumer Price Index: 661.

That does not count what those tickets cost on the secondary market at websites like StubHub, he said.

* The NFL ranks behind NASCAR and Major League Baseball in the number of brands that "avid fans" recall, according to a study released on Wednesday by FanLab, a firm that measures sponsorships.

As one example, Bridgestone Corp's namesake tire is the "official tire of the NFL," but football fans recall Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co twice as often. Official NFL beer Molson Coors Brewing Co's Coors Light lost to Anheuser-Busch InBev's Budweiser, FanLab said.

* Some studies are good enough to publish more than once. Publicly traded companies that advertise during the Super Bowl see a spike in their common stock, even if they are not pitching a consumer product.

That is from a study that Rice University's Graduate School of Business released in 2005 -- and re-released this week.

* Nielsen releases numerous reports about the Super Bowl on subjects like food (Super Bowl Sunday is Potato Chip Sunday), TV ratings and the effectiveness of Super Bowl TV ads.

Nielsen's latest poll, released on Thursday, shows social advocacy ads made for the show generate more buzz than traditional brands -- particularly this year's anti-abortion commercial by conservative group Focus on the Family, and an ad for gay male dating website that CBS Corp rejected as inappropriate.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman. Editing by Robert MacMillan)