Super Bowl Numbers Better Than Expected

Super Bowl XLIII drew an average of 94.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen numbers provided by NBC, which broadcast the game Sunday from Tampa, Fla. Preliminary affiliate numbers posted yesterday put the average at around 86 million, tapering off after more than 96.5 million folks showed up for the kick-off.

The number represents the second-largest audience to watch a Super Bowl. The 2008 upset of the New England Patriots by the New York Giants drew on average 97.5 million viewers for Fox.

NBC noted that it has now broadcast two of the top three and three of the top five most-watched Super Bowls. The 1996 telecast was third with 94.1 million viewers; 1993 was No. 5 with 91 million viewers.

Most-watched Super Bowls (average viewers):
1. Super Bowl XLII 97.5 million Fox 2008
2. Super Bowl XLIII 95.4 million NBC 2009
3. Super Bowl XXX 94.1 million NBC 1996
4. Super Bowl XLI 93.2 million CBS 2007
5. Super Bowl XXVII 91.0 million NBC 1993

The finale of “M*A*S*H” averaged 106 million viewers, making it the most-watched television broadcast in history.
Most-watched Television Broadcasts (average viewers):
1. “M*A*S*H” Finale 106.0 million CBS 1983
2. Super Bowl XLII 97.5 million Fox 2008
3. Super Bowl XLIII 95.4 million NBC 2009

The total audience for Super Bowl XLIII--including those who tuned in for even a few minutes--reached 147 million, making it the third most-watched television broadcast of any type measured, NBC said. The total audience number for the Cards-Steelers ranks second to last year’s game, when the Giants-Patriots drew in 148.3 million viewers.