An estimated 111.4 million people watched the New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots at the 2012 Super Bowl, and 111 million watched the game in ’11.
(FYI, the audience was 106.5 million in 2010.)
CBS’s 1983 broadcast of the “M*A*S*H” series finale remains the country’s highest-rated TV broadcast in history — household ratings clocking the percentage of the country’s population watching a program. The long-running anti-war drama’s finale clocked a whopping 60.2 household rating, which means 60.2 percent of the country’s TV homes were tuned in. Sunday’s game attracted about 46.3 percent of U.S. TV homes.
That “M*A*S*H” bow-out rating translated to about 106 million viewers three decades ago — a remarkable accomplishment considering there are about 114 million more people in the country today than when “M*A*S*H” signed off.
Although Nielsen has scrubbed the viewership during the blackout from its Super Bowl books, the dead time impacted overall game ratings.
Those numbers climbed steadily every half-hour through Beyonce’s halftime show, even though the game was shaping up as a Ravens walkover.
But minutes after the start of the second half, power went out in a large chunk of the stadium and in CBS’s control booth, leaving the network scrambling to hang on to viewers without its on-air A-team — a situation that could have been fiscally catastrophic, what with advertisers paying a record $3.8 million to $4 million for a 30-second spot during the game, and expecting their money’s worth of viewers.
CBS did its best to fill the programming void with “Will this unexpected break change the game momentum, and give San Fran time to regroup?” talking-head blah, blah, blah, as well as with some ads. Meanwhile social media beat the drum:
“49ers just unleashed their ‘Blow a Fuse’ strategy!” tweeted “Dancing With the Stars” host Tom Bergeron.
“David Chase wrote the third quarter,” added “Lost” creator Damon Lindelof.
“Somewhere there’s a CBS salesperson on the phone pitching the extra 10 mins of inventory they just created :),” chimed in Mark Cuban.
“Beyonce was so daggone hot, she blew out the power! #superbowlblackout,” tweeted “The View’s” Sherri Shepherd.
Dome management and the NFL blamed the blackout on an “abnormality.”
Beyonce, however, credited God:
“It's a live television show, it’s the biggest show in America, and there's so many things that could happen and God was on my side, so I'm very, very happy that it went well and the power went out after,” she told celebrity suck-up show “omg! Insider” Sunday night.
Late Monday, CBS put out word that the game was sampled by 164.1 million viewers, which bested last year’s 159.2 million. Those numbers reflect the quantity of people who watched as little as six minutes of the broadcast. (It’s a number that’s relevant to advertisers — because it’s a near cert that anyone who watched six minutes saw an ad break. But these are not the numbers for Nielsen’s Super Bowl historical tracking.)