Ratings: Super Bowl XLVI Is Most-Watched TV Program Ever, With 111.3 Million Viewers

When it comes to the ratings for Super Bowl XLVI, the numbers were appropriately giant.

According to the Nielsen fast nationals released on Monday afternoon, the New York Giants’ victory over the New England Patriots was seen by 111.3 million total viewers, edging out last year’s match-up (which drew an even 111 million) to become the most-watched television program in U.S. history.

The Top 5 most-watched programs in U.S. TV history now stack up like this:
1 | Super Bowl XLVI, NBC (111.3 million total viewers)
2 | Super Bowl XLV, Fox (111.0 million)
3 | Super Bowl XLIV, CBS (106.5 million)
4 | M*A*S*H series finale, CBS (106.0 million)
5 | Super Bowl XLIII, NBC (98.7 million)

With a 47.0 overnight rating and a 71 share (up 2 percent from Super Bowl XLV), this year’s Big Game stands as the highest-rated Super Bowl since 1986 (when the Bears played the Patriots).

As for the Season 2 premiere The Voice that led out of the Super Bowl: It averaged 37.6 million total viewers and a 16.3 demo rating, making it the highest-rated entertainment program in six years (since Grey’s Anatomy‘s own apres-Super Bowl outing). What’s more, The Voice improved on Glee‘s year-ago post-Super Bowl showcase by 47 percent in the 18-49 demo, and was up 1 percent versus the rating Undercover Boss pulled in the plum spot in 2012.

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30 Comments
  1. Steven Moore says:

    I don’t understand these shares and demo stats. And I don’t think iminthe minority. Why can’t you give us the number of viewers, CONSISTENLY, when you talk about ratings. News flash: I bet your readers just want to know how many people watched the shows, not who watched it. Take a poll if you think imwrong. Having said that, I think your team is unparalleled and I’ve stopped going to any other tv site because you cover all the bases.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      With live sporting events, total viewer data is not available until later in the day.

    • BRETT says:

      It’s controlled by Nielsen. It takes a while for ratings data to be collected from a live event like the Superbowl… Might want to relax next time before jumping down the wrong throat.

    • Balaji K says:

      Whether it’s household or 18-49 demo, rating is the percentage of the total number of people that are watching a specific program. Share is the percentage of the total number of people that were watching TV at the time, watched the specific program.
      In the case of Super Bowl, 47.8% of American households were watching it and 71% of households that had their TV on, were watching it.
      In the case of The Voice, 19.4% of American households watched it and 33% of households that had their TV on, watched the program.

    • Jac says:

      If readers want to know what network execs are interested in for the purposes of renewal (in other words — will my show be cancelled) then they need to see the demo — because that is what the networks really care about. The overall number of viewers is more of an “huh…isn’t that fun” kind of stat. And in the defense of Matt – he does post both, when available.

    • MrMank says:

      Yeah, if you want to see how your show’s really doing and if it stands a chance of renewal, you’ll wanna know what that 18-49 demo rating is more than anything. Not in all cases, but it’s a pretty important number.

    • danielcw says:

      For me the most importnat number is the demographic share.
      (because you can compare it accross all time slots)

  2. kevin says:

    CBS will definitely aired next year’s Super Bowl. The Eye network will have a decision on what series to air right after the big game. HAWAII FIVE-O, BIG BANG THEORY, PERSON OF INTEREST and GOOD WIFE are likely candidates.

    • Holly says:

      Too early to really speculate, but Big Bang Theory and Hawaii 5-0 won’t get it. BBT doesn’t need a Superbowl bump. Its numbers are HUGE. Hawaii 5-0 will have been on the air 3 years, and The Good Wife, if renewed, for four. They aren’t likely to get much momentum from the spot. But if CBS has the Superbowl, and they aren’t promoting a new show, then I think Person of Interest is the best guess at this point.

      • ed says:

        i think CBS should use The big bang for their post superbowl spot. if those viewers stick then maybe CBS can have a comedy that averages around 20 million on a weekly basis.

    • Sg. Grant says:

      This is a kevin post. You will quickly learn it has no merit or coherence.

  3. Snapy says:

    Glad to see The Voice did strong in the ratings!

  4. Bad Breaker says:

    I was a Nielsen “family” a few years ago. It was a real pain in the butt.

    • ed says:

      how did you get picked?

      • Bad Breaker says:

        Randomly, I guess. The invitation came in the mail and asked if I would agree to do it. Being an avid TV watcher, I wanted to do it so I could have some input.

        • Otis B. Driftwood says:

          I did it recently too. And it was seriously a pain in the butt. I couldn’t believe all they send you is like $3, considering the time involved in it. Then they called me at least three times at my job, first asking would I be interested in doing it, then asking did I get the book, then again afterwards asking did I mail the book back. Never again.

          • Bad Breaker says:

            You’re so right. When I did it (about 8 years ago) they sent this thick book for a month with every half-hour of every day to be accounted for…even when you were sleeping you had to mark that and ANY time the TV was on you had to list exactly what you were watching. Sometimes my TV is just on as background noise while I’m doing other things. I’m like you…never again !

  5. Jason says:

    Bears played the Patriots in ’86 (85 Season). 83 was ‘Skins and Miami.

  6. JimC says:

    The Bears beat the Patriots 46-10….but NOT in 1983. The game was played on January 26, 1986.

  7. PaulH says:

    Sorry, Michael. 60.3 rating and 77 share, which is what the MASH finale got back then, trumps any and all Supes ratings. 125 million viewers also beats out 111.6.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      The M*A*S*H finale averaged 106 million total viewers over its 2 1/2 hour run; Super Bowl XLVI averaged 111.3 mil. M*A*S*H‘s “125 million” number is those who saw at least six minutes of it. And nowhere above does it claim that XLVI outrated M*A*S*H.

  8. Velvet says:

    I watched Supernatural repeats all day.

  9. TigerNightmare says:

    I hope the people in charge at the NFL don’t think that Madonna had anything to do with it. I will avoid things that have Madonna in them.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Madonna (with 114 million total viewers) was the most-watched halftime show since 1991 (the first year they started booking acts), and she drew 18 million more than Springsteen.

      • Madonna's Still Got It says:

        Love it!

      • TigerNightmare says:

        Still don’t buy it. I’m pretty sure people leave the game on, halftime and all, whether they pay attention to the halftime show or not. I don’t exactly remember a lot of counter-programming on like MTV’s old Buttbowl and such. Me, I turned the sound down and did other things while she was on.

  10. Kevin says:

    Madonna had a lot to do with it. People that would never watch a Super Bowl tuned in just for her. You can hate her all you want but she’s the main reason for the high numbers whether you like that fact or not.

  11. dot says:

    Am not a fan of Madonna bt that was one of the best halftime shows if not the best good for her and so glad the voice got good rateings love that show I really hope smash does good today I already saw the pilot and this show is amazing their really hasn’t been anything like this on TV!

  12. Samantha says:

    and the city of Indianapolis kicked ass too! ;)

  13. kenneth m webb says:

    I loved it.Eli kicked their asses again!!!AWSOME.