Super Bowl 48 Sets All-Time Viewer Record, Despite Extensive Garbage Time

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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)

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  • Nate Johnson

    This year Super Bowl was very good in my opinion because the Seahawks fans witnessed their team missing out on opportunities and getting some bad calls (a couple of them came in the 4th Quarter) of Super Bowl XL and 8 years later the pain of that lost is completely gone! Maybe some of the fans will look back at Super Bowl XL and catch the pain since certain deserving players on that 2005 team didn’t get a Championship, but this moves them on kind of like the Dallas Mavs winning the 2011 NBA Finals vs. the Heat after a controversy series back in 2006 by the same 2 teams.
    Also it showcased that Defense is still name of the game to win a Championship in the NFL. This era of the media and majority of fans (Thanks to Fantasy Football) loves offense, high-scoring games and Quarterbacks. Despite most of the rules favoring Offense in Football these days it is proven that Defense can still have a hand print on winning a championship which is something that I dont only like but LOVE!
    FOX Telecast was tough to watch pre/post game and halftime. The FOX Studio team was not the same w/o Terry Bradshaw and it sent a message to me to enjoy these great studio teams like FOX NFL, ESPN College Gameday and also the NBA on TNT crew because they all wont be together forever. I am disappointed that FOX did not find a replacement for Bradshaw and showcase their other Football analysts throughout the pre-game like Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, John Lynch and Ronde Barber. That was disappointing! Buck and Aikman was good, but there best game together was the Wildcard game between the 49ers and Packers I mean far less talking from the 2 was great (maybe it was because it so cold in Lambeau that evening) but all seriousness I realize the less the 2 talk the better and I wish Joe Buck would do that more in NFL telecast because he does that a lot in his MLB telecast especially after 7th inning. Lastly, Pam Oliver I heard that she is up for a new Contract with FOX and I hope she gets it but if she dont I hope they dont let Chris Myers back on the sidelines for good because he is a good Play by Play announcer… Very Underrated!