There was a time when commercials were just another form of mass-marketing and were used to sell stuff. But times have since changed and commercials have become content on their own.
The Apple ad changed everything. It was now commercial as content, commercial as event. The Apple ad was seen by more people after the game via free media than saw it during the game itself.
While millions across America watch the Superbowl for the game, there are millions more over the world that could care less about the game but sit through it just to see the advertisements. Even more interesting, and further proof of what Seth is talking about, are websites like this, that bypass what is supposed to be the content (in this case the game) and give you access to what are supposed to be commercials (but may as well be content under our new definition).
Being from Pakistan, while I am completely oblivious to everything related to American Football, I am aware of the Superbowl advertisement phenomenon and I too bypassed the programming and just looked at the advertisements. Who would’ve thought that people would voluntary go looking for ads?