Superbowl Sunday: Worth the Effort?

J.M. here.  Working on Superbowl Sunday is influenced by a myriad of factors.  These include: which market you’re driving in, whether you’re positioned to take advantage of surge/demand, and how much you drive (i.e., part-time vs. full-time).  


After going back over all of my income statements for 2016, I’ve discovered that some payouts during the month of January were bigger than during other months of the year.   Which is no surprise if you consider the huge spike in demand during New Year’s Eve (NYE).   Driving on NYE can be a great way to take advantage of income potential; however, outside of this holiday blitz, winter months are typically slower than the rest of the year.  That’s why drivers should pounce on Superbowl Sunday when it rolls around.  Because this day often means a lot of parties, drinking, and the inevitable ride home via ridesharing. 

 

Here’s my account of working on Superbowl Sunday, and some of the pros and cons associated with sacrificing fun for the hustle.

 

Superbowl Hype Means Busy Drivers

Traffic is one of the biggest factors that will influence your income potential on Superbowl Sunday.  Fortunately, the Superbowl falls on a Sunday.  So traffic may not be as severe as a Friday at 6:30pm, for example.  Ideally the demand will be there towards the end of the game, and just afterwards.  This is when most people are heading home; however, it’s still a Sunday night at this time, which means little traffic.  Traffic patterns fluctuated throughout the day yesterday I learned.  Leading up to the game (i.e., 4:00 – 6:30pm) there was a lot of activity on the road.  I also had a solid string of trip requests at this time too.  Which stayed pretty consistent up until kickoff, and a few minutes afterwards.

Balancing a Social Life with Work?

If you’re doing ridesharing in NYC, or wherever else for that matter, it could mean you’ve been driving all week already.  That was the situation for me, but I chose to drive on Sunday too because I have no life  Via’s promotions were pretty attractive.  Via also recently expanded their service to operate 24/7 in my market, which meant that I drove well past the ending of the Superbowl.  From what I gathered on internet forums, like Uberpeople.net, there was a healthy amount of Uber surge at this time too.  Therefore, if you sacrificed having fun or relaxing to work on Superbowl Sunday, it was potentially pretty lucrative for rideshare app drivers.

Screenshot of surging map after Superbowl Sunday.Note: this image was taken by an anonymous User, and shared on Uberpeople.net

Judging by the screenshot above, there’s a pretty good chance that the driver came into contact with a surging trip request.  Even if he hadn’t, he’s eligible for boost earnings based upon the current promotion and positioning (i.e., driving within the boost zone).  Personally, I work with Via as my bread and butter rideshare app of choice.  The reason is because their guaranteed earnings for working promotional hours are at, or above, the average income of drivers in this market.  For example, on Superbowl Sunday yesterday they offered me $250 for logging at least eight hours in the system.  This iPhone screenshot displays an image of this particular promotion, which was sent via text.

A sample promotion during Superbowl Sunday from Via.
Note: the $250 does not include Via’s 10% commission.

 

Whether you work with Via, Uber, or another TNC, the per-hour average is going to be way better than most rideshare markets (in NYC).  And demand on Superbowl Sunday will be at least slightly higher than the typical Sunday.  I guess what I’m saying is transitioning to the NYC market, and getting a TLC license, isn’t something to sneeze at.  Computing the work per hour above, after Via takes their commission (of 10%), I’m walking away with $28/hour for the eight hours of driving.  Not bad.

Your Market Will Affect Income Potential

Each year will be different on Superbowl Sunday, depending on which cities’ teams are in the big game.  For example, Users of Uberpeople.net in Atlanta reported high levels of surge up to 10x.  There’s a good chance that that city was celebrating a little bit harder than other cities (i.e,. up until the fourth quarter).  Also, drivers in Houston (where the Superbowl was hosted) reported experiencing a bump in demand too.  Here’s a sample screenshot of one Users earnings from last night in that market:

Another User's earnings from Superbowl Sunday.
This driver averaged $44/hour on Superbowl Sunday, and almost made as much in boost and surge as he did with regular fares.  It’s probably worth noting that the window of surge/demand typically only lasts for a couple hours at most.  So if you’re positioned to take advantage of the “going home” crowd, you could be in for a nice little bump.

Part-time Vs. Full-time Drivers

 How much you typically drive in a given week will likely weigh upon your decision to work on Superbowl Sunday.  For example, individuals that have a primary job, that’s not rideshare driving, may be more inclined to take the day off.  The great thing about this faux holiday is that people typically travel before, and after the game.  Which means drivers can be selective in when and how much driving they are willing to commit to.  Along these lines, full-time drivers have to work a certain number of hours per week to meet income goals.  So for part-time drivers, working on Superbowl Sunday or not might be less of a no-brainer.  Either way, you’re likely to make close to $20-$25/hour outside of NYC (i.e., in non-commercial markets).  

Side-Hustle Vs. Mainstay Gig

 
Similarly, my income contrasted to last year reflects a different level of earning potential.  The reason is because last year I was working in NJ, driving for $0.85 per mile.  It’s actually a welcome relief to be able to hit the road for a solid 40+ hours in a given week, and come out with enough money to live on for a change.  To accentuate my case in point, here’s the earnings report from this week last year:
Working with the Uber platform during Superbowl Sunday week in NJ.
You can see from this screenshot that I was forced to work seven days that week, just to keep my head above water.  And most other weeks of the year too!  Which is why I was so motivated to complete all of the necessary requirements in getting my TLC license.  If only I had known how much money is out there, I would’ve been on the road in NYC much sooner!  Still, I’m actively driving full-time with Via and Uber in NYC.  And actually able to make enough money every month to put something into my savings.  

Demand Will Be There

So deciding on whether to sacrifice fun for hustling comes down to which market you drive in, how much you’ve made in the week already, and whether you’re positioned to take advantage of surge or not.  Next year I will probably not work, since I worked during Superbowl Sunday the past two years.  One thing I def won’t do is “go online” after coming home from a Superbowl party.
I recommend driving on Superbowl Sunday if you’re a.) in a market which has a team in the big game, or the city hosting the vent, and 2.) don’t have any other plans already.  From the information above, it’s definitely possible to make some good money; however, don’t be like me and drive seven days a week to make a buck.  It’s not worth the sacrifice of your personal relationships, unless you’re anticipating some serious surge/demand or have a concrete promotional offer from a TNC.  

Featured image courtesy of  The Seattle Times, Super Bowl Serves as Peacemaker Between Uber and Houston,” published February 2, 2017 @ 10:55am

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I’m an aspiring personal finance blogger, and do ridesharing in the greater New York area. Reading, writing, and “fun creative” stuff are my passions; and I’m interested in the topics of saving, investing, and financial freedom.

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