via NBC press release:
SUPER BOWL XLIII ON NBC 2ND MOST WATCHED SUPER BOWL IN HISTORY
147 Million Total Viewers & 95.4 Million Average Viewers Watch Super Bowl XLIII
TAMPA – Feb. 2, 2009 – Super Bowl XLIII is the second most viewed Super Bowl in history with a total audience of 147 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, and third most-watched television broadcast in history. The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in a game described by John Madden as a "super, Super Bowl" and Al Michaels as "a classic."
"The Super Bowl, once again, proved its ability to captivate America," said Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics. "The National Football League should feel a great sense of pride in providing a day of enjoyment to American families – especially those who are struggling in these difficult times."
The total audience ranks second all-time, trailing only Super Bowl XLII's 148.3 million viewers. That game benefited from a team from the nation's No. 1 media market as the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots in the game's final seconds to end the Patriots historic undefeated season. (Total audience measures viewership for all or part of a broadcast.)
Ebersol added: "Recording the two biggest Super Bowl audiences in history in two consecutive years proves that the NFL is stronger than ever. These numbers confirm the power and consistency of the Super Bowl as the top property in all of television."
The average viewership is also second in Super Bowl history, behind only last year's game (97.5 million). NBC now owns two of the top three and three of the top five most watched Super Bowls of all-time, with Super Bowl XXX third on the list with 94.1 million viewers and Super Bowl XXVII fifth with 91.0 million viewers.
MOST-WATCHED SUPER BOWLS (average viewers):
1. Super Bowl XLII 97.5 million Fox 2008
2. Super Bowl XLIII 95.4 million NBC 2009
3. Super Bowl XXX 94.1 million NBC 1996
4. Super Bowl XLI 93.2 million CBS 2007
5. Super Bowl XXVII 91.0 million NBC 1993
The "MASH" finale averaged 106 million viewers, making it the most-watched television broadcast in history.
MOST-WATCHED TELEVISION BROADCASTS (average viewers):
1. "MASH" Finale 106.0 million CBS 1983
2. Super Bowl XLII 97.5 million Fox 2008
3. Super Bowl XLIII 95.4 million NBC 2009