Despite one of the most lopsided results in Super Bowl history, the Seahawks’ easy victory over the Broncos was the most-watched program ever in the U.S.
Super Bowl 48 between the Seahawks and Broncos earned a 46.4 final rating and 111.5 million viewers on FOX Sunday night, according to Nielsen fast-nationals — flat in ratings and up 3% in viewership from Ravens/49ers on CBS last year (46.4, 108.7M), and down 1% and up less than 1%, respectively, from Giants/Patriots on NBC in 2012 (47.0, 111.3M). [The game finished with a 46.7 rating and 112.2 million in the final numbers.]
Seahawks/Broncos — a 35 point blowout in favor of Seattle — earned the largest audience in U.S. television history, topping the previous high set by Giants/Patriots in ’12. A closer game would likely have done even better; according to FOX, the rating at kickoff (44.5) was the highest in Super Bowl history.
The last five Super Bowl telecasts (2010-14) now rank as the five most-viewed programs in U.S. TV history, with two of the top three having aired on FOX. The 1983 series finale of “M*A*S*H” ranks as the top non-Super Bowl program with nearly 106 million viewers.
The past seven Super Bowl telecasts (2008-14) rank as the most-viewed in the 48-year history of the game. Until 2008, the most-viewed Super Bowl was Cowboys/Steelers in 1996 with just 94.1 million viewers. As recently as 2005, the Super Bowl earned just 86.1 million viewers — or 25 million fewer viewers than Sunday’s game.
Eight of the past nine Super Bowl telecasts have had an increase in viewership over the previous year, with last year’s Ravens/49ers game the lone exception.
Sunday’s 46.4 rating is tied as the second-best for any television program since the 1994 Winter Olympics on CBS, matching last year. Only Giants/Patriots in 2012 earned a better rating.
(Sun. numbers from Fox Sports Media Group)