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Volume 22 No. 35
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Defensive battle keeps viewership in check

Boston led the way in local ratings while many folks in New Orleans turned the dial.
Photo: Getty Images

After a season of offensive fireworks led to increased television ratings across all of the NFL’s TV networks, a defensive struggle in this year’s Super Bowl caused CBS’s audience to fall under 100 million — the first time in a decade that the Super Bowl failed to hit the 100 million viewer mark.


While the end total of 98.2 million viewers was disappointing for CBS executives, the viewer figure will not affect CBS’s ad sales revenue. Networks do not offer advertisers any ratings guarantees for the Super Bowl, so CBS will not have to write any make-goods for the ads, which brought in more than $5 million per 30-second spot.


Network executives can point to the presence of the Los Angeles Rams as the main reason why the television numbers were down in this game. The team moved to L.A. in 2016 and still hasn’t developed a rabid fan base. During the week before the Super Bowl, Patriots fans seemed to outnumber Rams fans on the streets of Atlanta by a 10-to-1 margin.


In Los Angeles, the game posted a 44.6 rating, which isn’t so bad. But it is 21 percent below the local Super Bowl rating for the NFC champion in last year’s Super Bowl. The Eagles-Patriots game scored a 56.2 rating in Philadelphia.


The New Orleans rating was eye-popping. Usually a reliable market for NFL ratings, Saints fans vowed to boycott the Super Bowl and many did, producing a 51 percent drop from last year’s rating.

First Look podcast, with Super Bowl LIII and NFL offseason discussion at the 8:24 mark:

You can also download the First Look transcript.