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New NFL, Nielsen Survey Finds Many More People Viewed Super Bowl LVI

Super Bowl
(Image credit: NFL)

NEW YORK—In a custom survey designed to complement Nielsen’s measurement data, the National Football League and Nielsen found that a much larger number of people watched Super Bowl LVI than previously reported, with an estimated 208 million-plus viewers watching the game, approximately two-thirds of the entire population of the United States.

That figure is 25% more than the 167 million unique viewers who watched at least one minute of the game based on Nielsen's initial measurement.

Earlier this month, Nielsen reported that the telecast of Super Bowl LVI on NBC, Telemundo, Peacock, NBC Sports Digital, NFL Digital platforms and Yahoo Sports mobile properties averaged  112.3 million viewers to rank as the most-watched show in five years – since Super Bowl LI in February 2017 (113.7 million on Fox).

The new data, which looked further into viewing by people in group and out of home settings, highlight the unique viewing nature of the Super Bowl, which stands alone in the sports and entertainment landscape as an event that many watch in an out-of-home group setting such as a viewing party, bar, or restaurant, the NFL reported. 

Nielsen measures out-of-home in locations such as bars and restaurants across about 65% of the United States and its co-viewing measurement covers groups of up to 16 people in households across the entire country.  Nielsen found that nearly 90% of all people using a television during the event on Sunday, February 13, were watching the Super Bowl, the highest Super Bowl share on record (89.6%).

The custom survey of 6,600 households, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago using the AmeriSpeak panel, examined the size of viewing groups at any location and to what extent those groups are larger than that which is measured today.

"While it's no secret that the Super Bowl is the biggest event across the media landscape on a yearly basis, the exact number of people watching the game has been challenging to pinpoint given the fact that people tend to gather in groups to watch the game" said Paul Ballew, chief data and analytics officer of the NFL. "We're grateful for the work put into this custom survey by Nielsen, the results of which we feel provide the most accurate picture to date of the total viewership for this unique event."

"While we are confident in our measurement which is the gold standard for the industry, we are always looking for ways to more strongly collaborate with our clients to better understand who may be watching, and how they may be watching," said Jon Stainer, Nielsen Sports managing director for the Americas. "We have worked closely with the NFL for years and performed other similar studies to better understand who may be tuning in to the largest TV event every year."

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.