Super Bowl Sets Another Television Viewership Record

Super Bowl XLIX

Once again, the Super Bowl broke viewership records to become the most watched television broadcast in history:

Super Bowl XLIX surged to break multiple records on Sunday night, raking in 114.4 million viewers to become the most-watched telecast in U.S. history.

Overnight ratings, based on metered markets, however, suggest that a new record was set on Sunday night, with the New England Patriots’ narrow victory over the Seattle Seahawks delivering a 49.7 rating, the highest overnight rating in Super Bowl history. That’s up 4 percent from the 2014 blowout that pulled a 47.6 rating — the fifth-highest overnight on record for a Super Bowl. But after low-balled preliminary figures last year, that game went on to be the most watched to date with 112.2 million viewers.

This is the fifth consecutive year in which the Super Bowl has set a record for the most watched show in history. Indeed, we’re now at the point where the Super Bowl is essentially the only television broadcast that garners these kinds of numbers.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. It helped that this year’s game wasn’t more or less over part way through the second quarter like last year.

  2. Mikey says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Yes, last night’s game was one of the most exciting I can remember. From the first interception (for which the intercepting player paid with a badly broken arm) to Seattle’s masterful 80-yards-in-29-seconds drive to tie it at the half to the incredible swings of fortune at the end, it was wonderfully entertaining. Even the halftime show was an impressive production and sounded really good.

    It was also one of those times I was glad I’m not a fan of either team…I don’t think my heart could have taken that last couple minutes. My goodness. I leaned toward New England because Brady’s a Michigan alum, but Seattle’s effort really impressed me. I’d have been happy with either outcome.

  3. ernieyeball says:

    Boston is the number 7 TV market and Seattle-Tacoma is 14. Super Bowl viewership numbers attest to the national fan bases of NFL teams and nationwide appeal of the game.
    If I had grandkids I’m sure I would want them to have a giant animatronic lion and would probably take out a second mortgage to get them one (so I could ride it all over town and scare the sh!t out of everybody).
    But Madonna’s XLVI 1/2 time spectacular entrance still beats all!

  4. James Pearce says:

    I see the NFL boycotts are going swimmingly…

    Side note: Read on kottke this morning that his NFL boycott did not actually survive the Super Bowl. The saddest part of it is that he totally gets why people love sports:

    Life is full of many greater, more fulfilling, and more genuine moments, but there’s no feeling quite like the one when you realize your team has won, especially when that victory has been snatched, semi-literally, from the jaws of near-certain defeat.

    But then doubles down on the activist-y do-nothingism that renders these boycotts not only half-hearted but also completely toothless:

    But that’s ultimately weak sauce. I don’t feel justified about watching just because I really enjoyed it. I made a commitment to myself and didn’t honor it. I believe the NFL is still a terrible organization and isn’t worth supporting with my attention. For whatever it’s worth, I’m going back to not watching next year, and I hope I fare better.

    Um, good luck with that.

    Me, I believe the NFL is a terrible organization that will not be made less terrible if people stop watching the games. It may, though, become a less terrible organization if folks like Richard Sherman keep pushing for change from the inside. But there I go, thinking in terms of cause and effect rather than what would make me feel better about myself.

  5. John Peabody says:

    Highest Share of viewers (the highest percentage of viewers at a particular time) is still the last episode of “M*A*S*H”.

  6. Gustopher says:

    I was just watching hoping for a fight.

    Ok, seriously, that brawl at the end was just plain terrible, and the refs should have expelled everyone who threw a punch, and not just the instigator. Sigh. Well, at least no one can accuse the Seahawks of being good losers.

    On the plus side, I loved the dancing sharks.

  7. ernieyeball says:

    @John Peabody:..Highest Share of viewers (the highest percentage of viewers at a particular time) is still the last episode of “M*A*S*H”.

    Feb 28, 1983. Saw that too. Feels like 132 years ago.

  8. Tyrell says:

    @Gustopher: Expelled ? Think about the NHL where fighting gets the players a 5 minute sit down water break. It seems the NFL is getting a lot of flak about head injuries and being violent. Think about the NHL : fighting is routine and accepted, players hit each other with sticks, players slam each other into the boards, players throw elbows to the head. Look at the WWE: wrestlers hit each other with chairs, break tables with each other, and slam each other onto a concrete floor ! Yet you don’t hear about any of this on the news media. A double standard ?

  9. Tyrell says:

    Super Bowl commercias: over rated overdone, over emphasized. Anyone who sits through a string of commercials must not have any thing better to do. Anyone who watches those special programs showing past Super Bowl commercials has serious problems.

  10. ernieyeball says:

    @Tyrell:.. Anyone who watches those special programs showing past Super Bowl commercials has serious problems.

    Jesus Ty, lighten up will ya’?
    We all have our crosses to bear…

  11. Tyrell says:

    @ernieyeball: yes, a good point. Mine is weekly doses of WWE. I just can’t “let it go”