Super Bowl most watched TV show in U.S. history, draws record 111.3 million viewers

 

Viewership peaked during Madonna's halftime show

 
 
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Madonna performs during halftime of Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 in Indianapolis. Her show was watched by an estimated 114 million people — a higher average than the game itself, which still drew a record average of 111.3 million viewers.
 
 

Madonna performs during halftime of Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 in Indianapolis. Her show was watched by an estimated 114 million people — a higher average than the game itself, which still drew a record average of 111.3 million viewers.

Photograph by: Getty Images, Getty Images

NEW YORK — For the third consecutive year, the Super Bowl set a record as the most-watched television show in U.S. history.

The Nielsen Co. said Monday that an estimated 111.3 million people watched the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots on Sunday night. That narrowly beat the 111 million who watched Green Bay's win over Pittsburgh last year.

NBC was blessed by a competitive game between two teams that played in one of the Super Bowl's most memorable contests four years ago, with one of them representing the largest media market in the country.

The game wasn't over until Tom Brady's last-second heave into the end zone dropped onto the turf. That play itself had the biggest audience of any play in the game, according to the digital video recorder maker Tivo. Nielsen said 117.7 million people were watching during the last half hour of the game.

The last two Super Bowls, along with the 2010 game between New Orleans and Indianapolis and the finale of M*A*S*H in 1983, are the only programs to exceed 100 million viewers in U.S. television history.

Madonna has some bragging rights, too. Her halftime show was seen by an estimated 114 million people — a higher average than the game itself — and was the most-watched Super Bowl halftime entertainment show on record, Nielsen said.

"I was rooting for Madonna as much as I was for the Giants," said Tara Maitra, senior vice president of Tivo, which also monitored viewership trends during the game.

The good news continued after the game for NBC, when the heavily-promoted season premiere of The Voice kept 37.6 million people in front of the television.

Its fans were disappointed, but Boston had its highest rating ever for an NFL game on Sunday. It was the second highest-rating ever in the New York market, behind only the Giants' first Super Bowl in 1986, Nielsen said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Madonna performs during halftime of Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 in Indianapolis. Her show was watched by an estimated 114 million people — a higher average than the game itself, which still drew a record average of 111.3 million viewers.
 

Madonna performs during halftime of Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 in Indianapolis. Her show was watched by an estimated 114 million people — a higher average than the game itself, which still drew a record average of 111.3 million viewers.

Photograph by: Getty Images, Getty Images

 
Madonna performs during halftime of Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 in Indianapolis. Her show was watched by an estimated 114 million people — a higher average than the game itself, which still drew a record average of 111.3 million viewers.
Quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants celebrates after they defeated the New England Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning touches his most valuable player trophy on Monday, the day after Super Bowl XLVI in which they defeated the New England Patriots 21-17 in Indianapolis.
Kenny Phillips #21 of the New York Giants breaks up a last second pass by Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots.
The New York Giants celebrate after defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Mario Manningham #82 of the New York Giants signals first down after catching a 38 yard pass from Eli Manning #10 over Patrick Chung #25 and Brian Witherspoon #29 of the New England Patriots.
New York Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham makes a clutch catch along the sidelines late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012. Defending in vain are New England Patriots free safety Patrick Chung and free safety Nate Jones. The Giants drove down the field late to win the NFL championship game 21-17.
Danny Woodhead #39 of the New England Patriots is tackled by a New York Giants defender.
Chase Blackburn (L) of the New York Giants is defended by Rob Gronkowski (R) of the New England Patriots in the second half.
Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants yells to his team in the fourth quarter after a play against the New England Patriots.
Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots waits with his offense in the huddle during the third quarter against the New York Giants.
Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after throwing a 12 yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez #81 against the New York Giants.
Danny Woodhead #39 of the New England Patriots celebrates with his teammates after catching a three yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady #12 in the second quarter against New York Giants.
Receiver Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants fights off two New England Patriots defenders.
Hakeem Nicks #88 celebrates with Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants after a two yard touchdown pass in first quarter against the New England Patriots.
Singer Madonna performs alongside LMFAO during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show.
Cee Lo Green performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show.
Singer Nicki Minaj performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show.
Singer Madonna performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show.
Singer Madonna performs with Redfoo and Sky Blu of LMFAO during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show.
Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants reacts to a play in the first half against the New England Patriots.
Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots has a ball batted down by Jason Pierre-Paul #90 of the New York Giants in the first half.
Ahmad Bradshaw #44 of the New York Giants runs the ball against the New England Patriots.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (R) audibles at the line of scrimage against the New York Giants during the second quarter in the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game in Indianapolis, Indiana, February 5, 2012.
Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants looks to throw ball against the New England Patriots.
Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants misses a ball thrown by Eli Manning #10 in the second quarter against Sterling Moore #29 and Brandon Spikes #55 of the New England Patriots.
New York Giants' Jerrel Jernigan gets away from New England Patriots' Antwaun Molden on the opening kick off in the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game in Indianapolis, Indiana, February 5, 2012.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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