Touchdown! Super Bowl XLV Becomes The Most Watched TV Show in History

Green Bay's Jordy Nelson catches a touchdown pass in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLV.  (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Green Bay's Jordy Nelson catches a touchdown pass in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLV. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

UPDATED: Super Bowl XLV was the most watched television show in history.  111 million viewers tuned in to watch the Green Bay Packers clinch a 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night on Fox.

Highlights from the press release below:

+ 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.

+ 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.

+ 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.

+ 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).

+ 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).

PREVIOUSLY: Forget the flubs, the fumbles, the commercials and even the score. Now we’re down to what really matters when it comes to the Super Bowl – ratings. And Fox appears to have scored big. Early numbers released by the network indicate Sunday’s game, Super Bowl XLV, tied with 1987’s Super Bowl XXI for the highest ratings ever, with reports of metered market ratings between 47.9 and 48.6 (or a 71 share). Overnight ratings are always subject to recalibration. But it appears Green Bay vs. Pittsburgh edged out last year’s Colts-Saints showdown, also a 47.9 share, and beat the 2009 Cardinals-Steelers game by a significant number. For those preferring a raw number, the game was watched by an estimated 110 million people, up slightly from the 106 million last year. Far more interesting, it was estimated last year that during the game Americans consumed 28 million pounds of potato chips and more than 300 million gallons of beer. Let’s see how those numbers hold up.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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