Is a Super Bowl Party Legal? What to Know About Sharing the Game Broadcast (2024)

The Super Bowl party is a great American tradition: the big game, goofy commercials, and gobs of food. But is it legal to host a party if you’re watching the big game? We’ll break down the mystery.

First off, the NFL doesn’t have a police force that’s going to break down your door and throw handcuffs on you if you’re having a party. But the league can get testy, depending on the circ*mstances.

Super Bowl Parties at Churches

In 2007, the NFL threatened to sue churches that were hosting Super Bowl parties, but that’s because some of the churches were going above and beyond a typical party situation.

At the time, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the issue was that some churches were charging admission (to cover food), and showing the game using a projector. They also used the phrase “Super Bowl” in advertisem*nts for the event.

However, in the face of legislative pushback, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell composed a letter saying, “the league will not object to live showings – regardless of screen size – of the Super Bowl by a religious organization when such showings are free and on premises used by the religious organization on a routine and customary basis.”

Super Bowl Parties at Bars and Other Venues

Sports bars may have to pay specific licenses to show NFL games - those are determined by the size of the venue, the number and size of screens, and how many speakers are in play. If you own a sports bar, you should consult an attorney to be sure you’re on the right side of the law.

Venues (including bars) can’t charge admission to watch the Super Bowl, and the law generally prevents them from showing the game on a TV bigger than 55 inches. The league has had to inform theaters, schools, museums, casinos, and hotels about these rules.

Again, these rules may be legally dodged if the venue pays the correct license to the league.

What the Law Says About Super Bowl Parties

When it comes to the law, there’s a lot of grey area. In 1976, the drafters of the “Transmit Clause” added to U.S. copyright law didn’t consider the possibility of a massive gathering to watch an event. The most-watched TV show that year was “Happy Days.” No one was charging admission for a huge party to watch the Fonz on a 25” Zenith. The law has not been revisited since then, so even if the NFL wanted to sue you for a party, it would have no legal precedent unless you were trying to turn a profit from their content.

Essentially, if you’re trying to make money from a Super Bowl party, the league might object. If they chose to press charges, they might have a case. Here's the specific copyright law if you want to do your own deep dive.

How to Watch the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs airs at 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT) on Sunday, February 12. Rihanna is performing the halftime show.

You can watch the game on FOX. To watch the action, we recommend Sling TV or DIRECTV STREAM.

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Is a Super Bowl Party Legal? What to Know About Sharing the Game Broadcast (2024)


Is a Super Bowl Party Legal? What to Know About Sharing the Game Broadcast? ›

After backlash against an NFL policy regarding a Baptist church's viewing party in 2007, the league scaled back its rules — allowing parties to view the game on virtually any size screen.

Are Super Bowl parties illegal? ›

If a church only uses NFL marks and no logos to describe the party in materials distributed to its congregants, the NFL will not object. For example, you can refer to the party as the Super Bowl party, and you can refer to the two teams participating, but a church cannot use the NFL Shield, Super Bowl, or Club logos.

Do I need a license to show the Super Bowl? ›

A bar or restaurant that has a public performance license to show television programs on its premises has the right to show the Super Bowl broadcast to its patrons, but if it uses the words “Super Bowl” in its advertising to attract customers, the league will object.

Why can't you say Super Bowl party? ›

Events as small as a church watch party being branded as a Super Bowl party (with money charged for it) have come under fire. It's a strict policy the league says it must uphold to justify the large sums of money it charges sponsors to use the Super Bowl trademark.

Can you say Super Bowl on social media? ›

You cannot use “Super Bowl.” It is trademarked by the NFL.

Can I call my party a Super Bowl party? ›

They are not allowed to use the term “Super Bowl” in any advertisem*nt because the NFL simply owns the trademark. It's why you see restaurants and bars advertising parties by using the words "The Big Game".

Can a church host a Super Bowl party? ›

Most church Super Bowl parties are perfectly legal, but a few regulations could cause the NFL to throw a penalty flag on a congregation. Most church Super Bowl parties are perfectly legal, but a few regulations could cause the NFL to throw a penalty flag on a congregation.

What is required to host a Super Bowl? ›

The host stadium must be in a market that hosts an NFL team and must have a minimum of 70,000 seats, with the media and electrical amenities necessary to produce the Super Bowl. Stadiums may include temporary seating for Super Bowls, but seating must be approved by the league.

Can I show NFL games at my business? ›

You must have the legal right to broadcast the game to the public. One way to get that right is to use a commercial television service such as a DirecTV or Xfinity business account. The key here is that it's a “business” account. You can't use your personal DirecTV login to show the game at the brewery.

Do Super Bowl performers pay to perform? ›

The NFL does not pay any appearance fees for entertainers who perform during the mid-game spectacle, either directly or through sponsors. But the artists do get paid for their time, even if it's much less than they're used to. “The NFL covers all costs associated with the show and does pay the performers' union scale.

Why can broadcasters say Super Bowl? ›

The name Super Bowl is trademarked, protected by copyright law. So to use that name in reference to the game, you must pay the NFL to do so.

Why can't radio stations say Super Bowl? ›

Some companies think saying "Super Sunday" is cool instead of "Super Bowl," but that's owned by the NFL too. So, if a company is caught using the term(s), they will receive a cease-and-desist letter from the league. Companies can't use the term because the league charges companies lots of money to use the term.

What was the controversy at Super Bowl? ›

Super Bowl halftime show controversies

Perhaps the most infamous moment in halftime show history, Justin Timberlake's "wardrobe malfunction" during a performance with Janet Jackson led to the exposure of Jackson's breast on live television, sparking widespread outrage and controversy.

Who can and Cannot say Super Bowl? ›

Such restrictions only apply to promotional purposes.

What can I say instead of Super Bowl? ›

Super Sunday.” “The Big Game.” “Game Day.” There seems to be lots of synonyms for the Super Bowl.

Is Super Bowl gambling legal? ›

So far, 38 states and Washington, D.C., have adopted a legalized sports betting market since 2018, though some are limited to in-person betting only. For the remaining states, including California, sports gambling of any kind, whether online or in-person, remains illegal, though that could soon change in some states.

Is it legal to gamble on the Super Bowl? ›

Sunday's Super Bowl in Las Vegas, the world capital of gambling, symbolizes the new alliance between professional sports leagues and the gambling industry. However, residents of the states with teams in the game, California and Missouri, cannot legally bet on it.

Is it illegal to throw a NFL game? ›

Manipulating a sports match's outcome for gambling purposes is outlawed.

What is the Super Bowl scandal? ›

The baring of Jackson's breast during the Super Bowl performance became referred to as a "wardrobe malfunction". Following the Super Bowl, both MTV and CBS apologized for the incident and asserted that they had no prior knowledge that Jackson and Timberlake's duet would involve partial nudity.

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