Friday, March 1, 2024

TV Ratings: Super Bowl LVIII Sets All-Time Record With 123M Viewers

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The second overtime game in Super Bowl history delivered a gigantic audience on Sunday — the biggest one in the history of total-viewer ratings, in fact.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ 25-22 victory over the San Francisco 49ers averaged 120 million viewers on CBS, by itself the largest telecast on record. Simulcasts on Nickelodeon, Univision, Paramount+ and other digital platforms pushed the total to 123.4 million. No other broadcast in American TV history — at least as measured by Nielsen — has drawn more people.

CBS says the Super Bowl was the most streamed ever; Paramount+’s portion of the audience is rolled into the 120 million viewers for the CBS telecast as they were showing the same feed. Univision averaged about 2.2 million viewers for its Spanish-language broadcast (a record for a Super Bowl broadcast in Spanish), which would put Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob-themed alternate telecast at 1.2 million.

The 123.4 million viewers are based on time zone-adjusted fast national ratings from Nielsen for the linear telecasts and Adobe Analytics figures for streaming. Final numbers and demographic breakdowns will be available Tuesday morning.

Super Bowl LVIII grew by 7 percent over last year’s game, which drew 115.1 million viewers for Fox (a figure revised up from 113.1 million almost three months after the fact). Until Sunday, that ranked as the most watched broadcast in U.S. television history, at least officially. Nielsen didn’t include out of home ratings in its totals until 2021, so it’s possible a few past games — every Super Bowl from 2013-16 averaged more than 111 million viewers — would have topped that number had out of home viewing been included.

Going further back, estimates for the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 across ABC, CBS and NBC ranged from 125 million to 150 million viewers, with the high end being almost three fourths of the entire U.S. population at the time (but again, those are not official counts). The final episode of M*A*S*H in February 1983 still holds the record for the largest household rating, with 60.2 percent of all TV homes watching the finale.

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