Super Bowl Draws TV’s Biggest Audience Ever

The Green Bay Packers may have the ring, but Fox is Super Bowl XLV’s biggest winner.

The network’s Sunday evening telecast averaged 111 million viewers, the most-watched championship in the bowl’s 44-year history. Still more impressive, Green Bay’s 31-25 victory smashed the record held by last year’s Super Bowl, making it the most-watched telecast in U.S. history, according to the Nielsen Company.

Before the 2010 game lured 106.5 million viewers, the 1983 series finale of M*A*S*H had held the record for nearly three decades. (Worth noting: the country’s population has ballooned by almost a third during that time.)

Noteworthy, yes, but hardly surprising. In an increasingly fragmented TV landscape, live games are among few programming options actually adding viewers. Proof: NFL ratings were up on all five broadcast and cable networks that carried games this season. Take hard-hit NBC, where regular season games lured 21.4 million viewers, up about 10% from a year earlier. Thus far this season, the network’s Sunday Night Football franchise is the second most watched prime-time program behind only American Idol.

At first glance, this year’s match-up of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Green Bay Packers would appear to fall short of must-see TV. Unlike a New York or Chicago entry, the teams play in media markets ranked 23rd and 70th, respectively, in the league. But what they lack in market size, they make up for in storied histories, hefty airtime and passionate nationwide fan-bases. Poor weather and a new stadium likely boosted viewership as well.

Sunday’s uptick couldn’t come soon enough for Fox, which suffered dismal ratings for the first half of the season. (Idol, too, has given the lineup an expected boost in recent weeks.) Proof: the network finished dead last in total viewers among the major networks, and tied with NBC for second place among the advertiser-beloved 18 to 49-year-old set. To blame were ratings duds Lone Star and Running Wilde, along with a disruptive major league baseball schedule. Update: With Sunday’s win, Fox moves into first place for the season in the all important 18-49 set.

The network used football’s biggest stage to promote not only older network series like House, Bones and Idol, all of which were plugged in spots throughout the game, but also newcomer The Chicago Code, a Shawn Ryan cop show set to debut Monday night. But the bigger beneficiary was a post-game airing of Glee, which has quickly become one of the network’s most valuable franchises. The musical dramedy charmed about 26.8 million with a football-themed episode, up more than 160% from its usual weekly audience of 10.1 million. (To be sure, CBS’ post-game selection of Undercover Boss drew a far more impressive audience of 38.6 million last year.)

Like Fox, several dozen advertisers capitalized on the opportunity to reach Super Bowl viewers, who famously and intently watch the game’s commercials. Among them: Chevrolet, Coca-Cola and Budweiser, which forked over up to $3 million –or some $100,000 per second– for the chance to connect. Newcomers like Groupon and Fox parent News Corp’s recently launched tablet newspaper The Daily are also poised to benefit from the continued buzz on the Web. (See all of Sunday’s ads here, and the buzz about them here.)

By:Lacey Rose (Forbes)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: