Super Bowl LII gave us what we wanted in a football game – a close contest throughout, an exciting finish, and best of all, the Philadelphia Eagles beating the favored New England Patriots for their first Super Bowl title and their first overall championship since 1960.
But despite all the theatrics, it wasn’t enough to top Super Bowls from recent years in the ratings department.
According to Nielsen, final ratings for Super Bowl LII had the total at 103.4 million viewers, down seven percent from last year’s Patriots-Falcons tilt on Fox, which featured the first-ever Super Bowl overtime. Among total viewers, it is the least-watched Super Bowl since 2009, when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals. When streaming is added in, 106 million total viewers watch the Eagles’ upset victory.
When out-of-home viewership is counted in (12 million), the total rises to 118 million viewers.
As for the actual ratings, the game scored a final 47.4 household rating, down three percent from last year’s 48.8. Among adults 18-49, the big game drew a 33.4 rating, down from a 37.1 rating last year.
Among metered markets, Philadelphia’s WCAU weighed in with a 56.2 rating and 81 share, topping Boston’s 55.9/81, signaling viewers were able to find the game on NBC’s new Boston O&O WBTS, available on channel 10 on cable/satellite and over-the-air on a variety of channel numbers (8.1, 60.1). However, Buffalo’s WGRZ topped them all with a 56.4/78. Host city Minneapolis (and St. Paul) came in fourth with a 54.9/82.
Despite the Bears being nowhere near the playoffs, Chicago’s, WMAQ still drew a healthy 46.5 rating, up 4.5 percent from last year’s Super Bowl, encompassing 1.53 million households. Milwaukee’s WTMJ drew a 52.3.
One of the reasons why ratings were down from last year could be one thing: those National Anthem protests. A study released Tuesday by UBS Securities showed many viewers – especially in rural areas tuned out NFL football this year due to a few players kneeling during the National Anthem, started by former 49er quarterback Colin Kapernick in August 2016 as some viewers were so repulsed they decided to never return. Super Bowl LII saw no players from the Philadelphia Eagles or New England Patriots kneel during the Anthem.
Justin Timberlake’s halftime show did a 48.1. overnight rating.
As for the post-Super Bowl entertainment, NBC’s hit show This Is Us with a major storyline change, was a ratings winner drawing 26.97 million viewers and a 9.3 rating among adults 18-49, the biggest audience for a post-Super Bowl show since The Voice in 2012. By comparison, the premiere of last year’s 24: Legacy drew just 17.3 million viewers in the post-Super bowl time slot and a 6.1 rating. Fox canceled Legacy a few months later.