Super Bowl XLV broke record for TV viewing


The Nielsen Company has tallied the numbers and reports that Sunday’s Super Bowl XLV which saw the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers was the most-watched program in the history of television. The audience for the game on Fox was over 111 million.

“Super Bowl XLV caps what is arguably the most successful season that any sports league has ever had,” said Pat McDonough, Nielsen’s Senior Vice President, Insights, Analysis and Policy.  “The number of people watching NFL games has never been higher, with 24% more people watching the average NFL game this year than just five years ago.  The Super Bowl continues to be in a category of its own, with an appeal that transcends sports and extends even to the commercials.  Because of the cliff-hanger nature of the game, viewers were tuning in until the very end, driving viewing levels to new heights.”

Most Watched Telecasts of All Time
Program Date Network Avg. # of Viewers (000)
Super Bowl XLV February 6, 2011 FOX 111,010
Super Bowl XLIV February 7, 2010 CBS 106,476
M*A*S*H Special February 28, 1983 CBS 105,970
Super Bowl XLIII February 1, 2009 NBC 98,732
Super Bowl XLII February 3, 2008 FOX 97,448
Super Bowl XXX January 28, 1996 NBC 94,076
Source: The Nielsen Company.

As you would expect, ratings were highest in the two metered markets with teams in the big game. (The Packers are considered the home team for Milwaukee as well as smaller Green Bay.)

Top Five Local Markets, Super Bowl XLV
Market Rating Share Households (000)
Pittsburgh 59.7 87 693
Milwaukee 59.7 85 538
Columbus, OH 56.2 74 515
Nashville 54.2 74 564
Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News 54.2 76 388
Source: The Nielsen Company.