SBD/February 4, 2014/Media

Despite Blowout, Super Bowl XLVIII Ends Up As Most-Watched Program Ever In The U.S.

Super Bowl XLVIII on Fox drew the largest audience in U.S. TV history despite the Seahawks’ blowout win over the Broncos on Sunday. The game averaged a 46.7 final rating and 112.5 million viewers, passing the viewership mark set by the Giants-Patriots in ’12 on NBC, which had 111.3 million viewers. Three of the last four Super Bowls have set new a U.S. TV viewership record. The 46.7 rating marks the seventh-highest-rated Super Bowl on record.

 

TOP 10 MOST-VIEWED SUPER BOWLS
YEAR
SUPER BOWL
NETWORK
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
MATCHUP
'14
XLVIII
Fox
46.7
112,500
Seahawks-Broncos
'12
XLVI
NBC
47.0
111,346
Giants-Patriots
'11
XLV
Fox
46.0
111,010
Packers-Steelers
'13
XLVII
CBS
46.3
108,414
Ravens-49ers
'10
XLIV
CBS
45.0
106,476
Saints-Colts
'09
XLIII
NBC
42.0
98,732
Steelers-Cardinals
'08
XLII
Fox
43.1
97,448
Giants-Patriots
'96
XXX
NBC
46.0
94,080
Cowboys-Steelers
'07
XLI
CBS
42.6
93,184
Colts-Bears
'86
XX
NBC
48.3
92,570
Bears-Patriots

 

TOP 10 HIGHEST-RATED SUPER BOWLS
YEAR
SUPER BOWL
NETWORK
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
MATCHUP
'82
XVI
CBS
49.1
85,240
49ers-Bengals
'83
XVII
NBC
48.6
81,770
Redskins-Dolphins
'86
XX
NBC
48.3
92,570
Bears-Patriots
'78
XII
CBS
47.2
78,940
Cowboys-Broncos
'79
XIII
NBC
47.1
74,740
Steelers-Cowboys
'12
XLVI
NBC
47.0
111,346
Giants-Patriots
'14
XLVIII
Fox
46.7
112,500
Seahawks-Broncos
'85
XIX
ABC
46.4
85,530
49ers-Dolphins
'84
XVIII
CBS
46.4
77,620
Raiders-Redskins
'13
XLVII
CBS
46.3
108,414
Ravens-49ers
'80
XIV
CBS
46.3
76,240
Steelers-Rams
LAW OF LARGE NUMBERS: Fox began the telecast with a 44.5 rating, which is the highest rating on record for a Super Bowl at kickoff. The game telecast peaked at a 47.9 rating during the 7:30-8:00pm ET window, as the Seahawks jumped out to a 22-0 halftime lead. The halftime show featuring Bruno Mars averaged 115.3 million viewers, marking a new halftime show record. Madonna held the previous mark with 114.0 million viewers for the ’12 show. Last year’s performance by Beyonce averaged 110.8 million viewers. Fox also averaged 23.1 million viewers for pregame coverage from 2:00-6:33pm, up 20% compared to the same window during CBS’ Super Bowl pregame coverage last year. The Super Bowl audience is expected to allow Fox to overtake NBC for the No. 1 spot in primetime among adults 18-49 for the current TV season. Fox averaged 94.6 million viewers in primetime on Sunday (7:00-11:00pm), marking the net’s second-best primetime average on record, behind only 100.9 million viewers around the Packers-Steelers Super Bowl in ’11. The net averaged 25.8 million viewers for an episode of “New Girl” following postgame celebration coverage, and also averaged 14.8 million viewers for an episode of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox). Fox Sports Exec VP/Programming, Research & Content Strategy Bill Wanger suggested that if the game "had been tight and exciting to the end, it might have attracted as many as 118 million viewers." Wanger said that more viewers "than ever watched the first half-hour of the game -- intrigued, he believed, by the matchup of the No. 1 offense against the top-ranked defense; the leading personalities (Peyton Manning and Richard Sherman); and the possibility of a snow-globe experience at MetLife Stadium" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/4).

CAREFUL WITH EARLY NUMBERS
: ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi wrote initial reports stating that the Super Bowl viewership was down shows that overnight Nielsen data is "effectively meaningless when it comes to assessing the performance of a live, nationwide sports broadcast." There wer several reports that Seahawks-Broncos "drew just 96.9 million viewers -- a variance of 14.6 million viewers" compared to the fast-national data (ADWEEK.com, 2/3). When several sources were prematurely running with the 96.9 million figure yesterday, Fox Sports Senior VP/Communications Lou D'Ermilio tweeted, "Non time zone adjusted fast nat'ls are going to start creeping out. Not accurate for #. Folks need to wait for fast nationals we issue." He then added, "Every audience figure out there now is based on faulty math, non time zone adjusted figures or guesswork. Please be patient" (TWITTER.com, 2/3).

AN UNTOUCHABLE PRODUCT: CAPITAL NEW YORK's Alex Weprin wrote Sunday's ratings "continue to show that the Super Bowl is a juggernaut unlike anything else on TV." Weprin: "While most broadcast programming is losing viewers in an increasingly fragmented video landscape, football -- and the Super Bowl in particular -- remain untouched by the changes happening in the rest of the media industry" (CAPITALNEWYORK.com, 2/3). The N.Y. Times' Bill Carter on his Twitter feed wrote, "Game set new audience record despite lack of excitement -- again underscores power of live programming. Globes up; Grammy's up" (TWITTER.com, 2/3).

GLUED TO THE TUBE
: In Seattle, Bob Condotta notes the game "drew the largest share for a TV sports event in Seattle history, with an estimated 2.5 million local viewers tuned in." The game had a 56.7 rating "in the greater Seattle area." By comparison, the Seahawks' loss to the Steelers in Super Bowl XL eight years ago drew a 54.4 local rating, while the NFC Championship Game win over the 49ers two weeks ago had a 53.9 local rating. Super Bowl XLVIII "did not chart the highest rating for any Seattle sporting event." That belongs to the '95 Mariners-Yankees ALDS Game 5, which drew a 62.4 local rating as the Mariners won to clinch their first postseason series (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/4). Meanwhile, in Denver, Dusty Saunders notes the game "produced the Broncos' highest audience share of the season -- 85.7," with the highest quarter hour from 5:30-5:45pm MT (DENVER POST, 2/4).

SOCIAL STUDIES: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Hilary Lewis noted more than 24.9 million tweets "about the game and halftime show were sent, beating the 24.1 million tweets" sent during last year's Super Bowl. On Facebook, 50 million people had "more than 185 million interactions related to the Super Bowl." The top three moments on both Twitter and Facebook "were the same: Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin opening the second half with an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which had 381,605 tweets per minute; Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse scoring a third-quarter touchdown to extend Seattle's lead, which had 271,775 tweets per minute; and Broncos QB Peyton Manning throwing a pick-six toward the end of the second quarter, which had 244,889 tweets per minute." Meanwhile, TiVo said that the most rewatched moment "was the bad snap on the opening drive that led to a Seahawks safety." TiVo also found that viewership for the halftime show "exceeded that of the overall game" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 2/3).

NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Super Bowl XLVIII was the second most-watched Super Bowl on record in Canada, with an average audience of 8 million viewers on CTV and RDS. The game attracted more than 18 million unique viewers on the nets. Super Bowl XLVI in '12 featuring Giants-Patriots attracted 8.2 million viewers in Canada (Bell Media). Meanwhile, see SBD Global for what the game did on German television.
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