History was made in Super Bowl LI – but not in the ratings.
Tom Brady led the New England Patriots from behind to beat the Atlanta Falcons 31-28 in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.
Airing on Fox, Super Bowl LI was epic in many ways: not only it was the first OT game, it was the first time a team came back from more than ten points behind to win a game. New England was down as many as 25 points.
As for the ratings – that’s a different story. Pending final numbers being released, Super Bowl LI attracted 111.3 million viewers for the entire game-by and far the most-watched program of the season. But it didn’t break the viewership record – it was set by Super Bowl XLIX, which drew 114.4 million for NBC.
Last year, the Denver Broncos-Carolina Panthers Super Bowl 50 matchup drew 111.9 viewers for CBS.
When the game went into overtime, viewership peaked at 117.7 million viewers, higher than Super Bowl 50’s peak of 111.5 million viewers.
Fox sent a press release Monday stating the Super Bowl drew 172 million viewers, the most-watched of all-time. However, what the press release didn’t tell you was it accounted for only six minutes of viewing, not the entire game – meaning 172 million watched all or at least part of the game – which is in fact, a new record (some media outlets reported the 172 million was a viewership record without clarification.)
Among households, the game drew a 45.3 household fast national rating, down from last year’s 46.6. This is the lowest household rating mark since Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. The overnight metered market rating registered at a 48.8.
In markets where the team was in the big game, Boston’s WFXT drew a 54.3 rating, while Atlanta’s WAGA drew a 57.0. But in a surprise, both were topped – by Pittsburgh, whose WPGH drew a 57.9; and Buffalo, whose WUTV drew a 57.2. Both Pittsburgh and Buffalo are AFC markets whose Steelers and Bills respectively, play in the Patriots’ Conference.
In Chicago, WFLD earned a 44.5 rating – short of the record-setting 51.8 rating the station earned in November when the Chicago Cubs clinched the World Series title for the first time since 1908, historic in its own right (Game 7 drew a little over 40 million viewers nationally.) Last year’s Super Bowl in Chicago drew a 47.5 household rating, and two years ago, Super Bowl XLIX drew a 54.9 rating, inflated thanks to a blizzard that kept most Chicagoans at home.
Spanish-language network Fox Deportes drew 650,000 additional viewers to the game.
Meanwhile, Lady Gaga’s halftime show drew a whopping 117.5 million viewers – more than the game itself.
In terms of streaming, Fox Sports Go served up 1.7 million of them, up from 1.4 million for last year’s Super Bowl on CBS. Unfortunately, the Fox Sports Go app crashed during the forth quarter, leaving a lot of unhappy fans scrambling to get to a TV set.
24: Legacy, a sequel to the original series, followed out of the Super Bowl with a tally of 17.3 million viewers, remarkable given the late starting time (9:59 p.m. CT.) Among adults 18-49 – the key demo for entertainment programming – 24 drew a 6.1 rating. However, this would mark the lowest-rated post-Super Bowl program in history, sinking below the mark set by CBS’ Elementary in 2013. It drew a 7.8 rating, and started outside of primetime.
Keep watching this space as more information becomes available. When it does, I will post it here.