From the moment Super Bowl XLIX secured the two top-seeded teams in the NFL, including the wildly loved and wildly hated New England Patriots, this was inevitable, but it's now office: Sunday (February 1) night's Super Bowl XLIX has become the most-watched show in US television history.
Running from 6:31 through 10:10 p.m. ET, the Patriots' come-from-behind victory over the defending champion Seattle Seahawks averaged a record 114.4 million viewers, topping last year's Super Bowl by 2.2 million and beating the 2012 Super Bowl by 3.1 million reviewers.
Remember those quaint decades when the “M.A.S.H.” finale was the most-watched program in US TV history? Well, with 106 million viewers, that finale is still No.7 all-time, but it ranks behind the past six Super Bowls.
In addition to standing as the most-watched Super Bowl ever, Super Bowl XLIX drew a 47.5 rating and a 71 share, making it the highest rated Super Bowl since way back in Super Bowl XX, another game featuring the Patriots, albeit with a very, very different result. It's the fourth highest-rated Super Bowl of all-time.
Nielsen ratings work in quart-hour increments and the game peaked in the 9:45-10 p.m. segment with 120.8 million viewers, as Tom Brady was leading the Pats into the end zone to take the lead. The final 10 minutes, with Russell Wilson's game-ending interception and subsequent Seahawks frustration averaged 120.3 million.
“Last night”s Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl ranks among the most exciting sporting events in U.S. history,” blurbs Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group. “Super Bowl XLIX delivered for all of our partners, proving once again that the Super Bowl is the most dominant and consistent property on television.”
NBC is boasting that the half-time show, featuring Katy Perry, Missy Elliott and dancing sharks was seen by 118.5 million viewers, up a rather comfortable 3 million viewers over last year's Bruno Mars performance. It's “the most-watched Super Bowl halftime show featuring entertainment” ever, a figure that goes back to 1991.
And what of the post-Super Bowl “Blacklist”?
Well, the soon-to-move-to-Thursday drama averaged 26.5 million viewers and did an 8.7 rating among adults 18-49. It's the most-watched post-Super Bowl entertainment telecast in… three years. Still, those numbers handily beat the drama's previous series highs in viewers (12.58 million) and 18-49 ratings (3.8 key demo).
The “Blacklist” episode was up by 25 percent over last year's “New Girl” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” episodes on FOX and ranked as the top entertainment telecast on the Big 4 networks since ABC's Oscars telecast last March. NBC is claiming “Blacklist” was sampled by 41.8 million viewers, for whatever that's worth.
“Blacklist” also outdrew the 2013 airing of “Elementary” on CBS, but couldn't come close to the 36.61 million viewers who watched the 2012 premiere of “The Voice.” “Blacklist” will move to Thursdays starting this week and we'll see if it gets a bigger Super Bowl bump than “Elementary” did (which is to say “bigger than none”).
Finally, the post-Super Bowl installment of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” drew 9.83 million viewers and did a 3.6 rating among adults 18-49, making it Fall's second highest rated telecast ever, because its February 17, 2014 debut.