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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Renowned football coach Vince Lombardi famously said, "battles are primarily won in the hearts of men," but for a quarter of Americans watching the Super Bowl on Sunday adverts mean more than the game.
As Lombardi's old team the Green Bay Packers prepare to face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Dallas for the trophy that carries his name, a nationwide poll of 1,018 adults by Marist showed 26 percent of American viewers are tuning in primarily for the commercials.
"The adverts are now a huge part of the day itself that has already grown bigger than anyone could imagine," said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. "It's a national gathering now and for some the new adverts are part of the attraction, with pre- and post-show analysis much like the game itself."
With an estimated audience in excess of 100 million in the United States alone, the Super Bowl is the biggest day in the calendar for U.S. TV advertisers.
A 30-second slot is estimated to cost up to a record $3 million this year, said media industry analyst David Joyce at Miller Tabak in New York .
Fox Broadcasting Co, which is airing the game, has said it expects the game to net them the biggest pay day in the channel's history.
Many companies premier adverts for the first time during the Super Bowl, with each vying for the viewers' attention.
"(It's) usually great recognition for the advertisers, for the money," Joyce said.
Nielsen, the media information company, said nine out of 10 Americans will watch the game at home or at a friend or relative's house rather than at a restaurant or bar.
There is a clear gender and education gap in the results, with 37 percent of women saying they are more excited about the adverts versus just 16 percent of men, according to Marist.
And college graduates are 10 percent more likely to watch for the ad breaks than those without a higher degree.
Miringoff said the viewing figures for the Super Bowl this Sunday could be the biggest for any single event in U.S. television history.
In general, older viewers are expected to be most concerned about the game, with just 13 percent of over 65s watching for the adverts.
'Generation X', people aged between 31-46, are least likely to follow the action, with 30 percent tuning in for the ad breaks versus 28 percent of 'Millennials', defined as those aged 18-30.
Geography had a slight bearing on the results. People in the Midwest and South were more likely to watch for the adverts than those on the coasts. Just 23 percent of those surveyed in the Northeast and west plan to watch for the adverts, compared with an average of 27.5 percent in the South and Midwest.
Reporting by David Sheppard; Editing by Patricia Reaney