Update ( 12:10p PT) Super Bowl XLV averaged 111 million viewers to become the most-watched program ever, breaking the previous record (last year’s Super Bowl) of 106.5 million.

Most Watched Telecasts of All Time
Program Date Network Avg. # of Viewers (000)
Super Bowl XLV February 6, 2011 FOX 111,010
Super Bowl XLIV February 7, 2010 CBS 106,476
M*A*S*H Special February 28, 1983 CBS 105,970
Super Bowl XLIII February 1, 2009 NBC 98,732
Super Bowl XLII February 3, 2008 FOX 97,448
Super Bowl XXX January 28, 1996 NBC 94,076
Source: The Nielsen Company.

Additionally, almost 163 million viewers watched at least part of the game — another record and surpassing last year’s game by over 9 million:

Game Total Viewers
Super Bowl XLV (Packers-Steelers), 2/6/11 162.9 million
Super Bowl XLIV (Colts-Saints), 2/7/10 153.4 million
Super Bowl XLIII (Cardinals-Steelers), 2/1/09 151.6 million
Super Bowl XLII (Giants-Patriots), 2/3/08 148.3 million
Super Bowl XXXVIII (Patriots-Panthers), 2/1/04 144.4 million

Source: NFL, The Nielsen Company

via FOX Sports:



Game Obliterates Prior Record; Sets Super Bowl Mark for Fourth Straight Year

Prime Time Audience Exceeds 100 Million for First Time

Irving, TX – History was made last night on FOX when Super Bowl XLV became the most-watched U.S. television program ever, and FOX became the first network ever to exceed 100 million viewers (100.9 million) for a night in prime time, according to fast-national ratings released today by Nielsen Media Research.  The game, the outcome of which was in doubt until the final seconds, saw the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to capture the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl Championship.

FOX Sports’ broadcast of Super Bowl XLV averaged 111 million viewers and is the most-watched television program in U.S. history, obliterating the prior record of 106.5 set last year during Super Bowl XLIV by 4.5 million viewers and the 106.0 million for the series finale of M*A*S*H, which held the viewership record from 1983 to 2010.

This is the fourth consecutive Super Bowl to set a viewership record, and attracted 13.5 million more viewers than FOX’s last Super Bowl broadcast in 2008 (97.5 million) for the New York Giants upset of the undefeated New England Patriots.  No other major sporting event has ever hit a record high in four consecutive years. This also marks the sixth straight year that Super Bowl viewership has increased, and over that span average Super Bowl viewership has increased from 86.1 million in 2005 to 111.0 million, a gain of nearly 25 million viewers.

The game posted a 46.0/69 household rating/share tying Super Bowl XXX in 1996 (Dallas-Pittsburgh) as the highest-rated since Super Bowl XX in 1986 (48.3/70, Chicago vs. New England).  Only eight of the 45 Super Bowls played had a higher rating, and all were played in a nine-year span between 1978 and 1986.

Super Bowl XLV also set a new mark for total viewership of any program in U.S. history (persons age 2+ watching all or part of the game) with 162.9 million people watching, 9.5 more than the record set a year ago (153.4 million).

Half-hour ratings and average viewership (in millions) for the game are as follows: 41.4/97.2 (6:34-7:00 PM ET); 44.3/106.8 (7:00-7:30); 45.9/111.7 (7:30-8:00); 44.7/110.2 (8:00-8:30); 46.8/114.9 (8:30-9:00); 48.4/116.8 (9:00-9:30); 49.2/117.2 (9:30-10:00); 47.1/111.5 (10:00-10:13 PM ET).

The SUPER BOWL XLV PRE-GAME SHOW averaged an 11.5/23 from 2:00 PM ET to kickoff at 6:34 PM ET, a +16% gain over last year’s 9.9/19, with 22.2 million viewers, and is the highest-rated, most-watched Super Bowl pre-game show in nine years (12.9, 23.3 million on FOX).  FOX’s SUPER BOWL XLV POST-GAME SHOW earned a 28.4/46 (66.0 mill.), down -14% compared to a year ago (33.0/51) on CBS, but up +11% over 2009’s 25.7/42 on NBC.

Following the post-game, a special airing of GLEE averaged a series-best 13.6/25 (26.8 mill.) among all Households and 11.1 among Adults 18-49, and is the highest-rated scripted program on television in three years among Adults 18-49.

The airing of Super Bowl XLV goes down as FOX’s most-watched night of prime time ever, as well as FOX’s highest-rated night ever among Adults 18-49. It’s also the most-watched night on any network in at least 20 years, and the highest-rated night on any network among Adults 18-49 in 15 years (dating to the night of Super Bowl XXX on NBC). The record-smashing performance of the Super Bowl vaults FOX into first place in the Adults 18-49 ratings race for the first time this season.  FOX projects to average a 3.4/9 for the season among Adults 18-49 through last night’s game, surpassing second-best CBS (3.0).

The SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW, featuring the Black Eyed Peas posted a 44.7/68 from 8:00 PM ET-8:30 PM ET, only -3% lower than the entire game.  That’s a slightly better audience retention than was delivered by recent halftimes featuring The Who in 2010 (-4%), Bruce Springsteen in 2009 (-5%) and Tom Petty in 2008 (-6%).  It is the highest-rated half-time since Michael Jackson performed in 1993 (45.5).

Ratings in the participating markets, the host city, and other major markets were the highest in many years. Both Pittsburgh (59.7/87) and Milwaukee (59.7/85) tied for the second-highest single-market rating in Super Bowl history.  The rating trails only Chicago’s 63.0 rating in Super Bowl XX.  Dallas, the host city, posted a 53.7/80, third-highest rating ever for a Super Bowl host city whose local team was not participating. Only Jacksonville’s 58.9 (‘05) and San Diego’s 53.9 (’03) were higher for a host city.   Dallas contributed over 700,000 more homes than Miami did a year ago.  New York, the nation’s no. 1 TV market, delivered a 42.6/63, the best rating in Gotham for a non-Giants Super Bowl in 28 years.  Los Angeles notched a 40.1/71, its best in 13 years for a non-Rams or Raiders Super Bowl.  Chicago posted a 51.4/73, which beat the rating for the Bears in Super Bowl XLI (50.2) and is the markets best-ever for a non-Bears Super Bowl.

SB XLV Ties ’87 with Highest Overnight Rating Ever; +3% Over 2010

SUPER BOWL XLV earned a 47.9/71 metered market rating/share last night on FOX, tying it with Super Bowl XXI in 1987 as the highest-rated ever in the metered markets.  FOX’s 47.9/71 is +3% better than the 46.4/68 posted a year ago.  National ratings and audience figures are expected this afternoon. The 71 share matches the highest for a Super Bowl since 1982, an significantly high share in the current era of fragmented television viewing.

FOX’s SUPER BOWL XLV PRE-GAME SHOW averaged a 12.2/24, a +13% gain over last year’s 10.8/21 and the best overnight rating for a Super Bowl pre-game show in eight years. As is typical for a Super Bowl pre-game, ratings rose dramatically throughout the day. The show opened at a 4.5/10 from 2:00-2:30, then grew to a 6.4/13 by 3:00, a 8.5/17 at 4:00, a 13.9/26 at 5:00 and finally a 33.7/56 from 6:00-6:30pm.

Ratings in the participating markets, the host city, and other major markets were the highest in many years. The ratings battle between Pittsburgh and Milwaukee was a push, as both cities delivered a 59.7 overnight rating. The two markets tied for the second-highest rating in a single market in Super Bowl history, trailing only Chicago’s 63.0 rating in Super Bowl XX.  Host city Dallas posted a 53.7/80, the second-highest rating ever for a host city whose own team was not playing in the game.  Only Jacksonville’s 58.9/77 rating in 2005 is higher for a host city, but Dallas contributed over 700,000 more homes to last night’s rating than Miami did a year ago. Two other host cities have rated higher than Dallas, but in both cases those cities had a local team playing in the game (San Francisco in 1985, Los Angeles in 1980; both posted a 55.0 rating). New York delivered a 42.6/63 last night, the best rating in New York for a non-Giants Super Bowl in 28 years. Los Angeles notched a 40.1/71, their best in 13 years for a non-Rams or Raiders Super Bowl. Chicago posted a 51.4/73, which actually beat the rating for the Bears in Super Bowl XLI (50.2) and is the best ever in the market for a non-Bears Super Bowl.

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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