One for the record books – again

The NFL was on fire this season with high ratings and record-breaking performances. And this year’s Super Bowl XLV between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers was expected to set an all-time viewership record – and it did not disappoint (even though most of the commercials and the halftime show did – but that came as no surprise, right?)

The Packers’ victory (snif) over the Steelers drew a whopping 111 million total viewers, making it the most watched television event of all time – far surpassing the record set just last year by Super Bowl XLIV, featuring the New Orleans Saints’ triumph over the Indianapolis Colts. That game drew 106.5 viewers, surpassing the 106 million set by the final episode of M*A*S*H on February 28, 1983.

The 111 million also marks Fox’s highest viewer total in its 24-year history – not bad for a channel once known as the “coat hanger network” and was home to fare such as The Adventures of Beans Baxter and Drexell’s Class. Fox stunned the world when it acquired rights to carry NFC games in December 1993 with a fall 1994 start, ending the NFL’s 38-year relationship with CBS (the Tiffany network retuned to the pro football dance in 1998 by snatching AFC games away from NBC.)

Preliminary ratings among adults 18-49 showed the Super Bowl earning a 36.4 rating and 71 share from 7-10 p.m. ET (this measures time period data only.) In household ratings, Super Bowl XLV earned a 46/69, tying Super Bowl XXX for second place behind Super Bowl XX.

In individual household numbers, the game drew a whopping 59.7/85 household rating/share on Local TV-owned WITI in Milwaukee (Green Bay isn’t a metered market) while Sinclair’s WPGH-TV in Pittsburgh drew an almost identical 59.7/87. Despite the Chicago bears being absent in the big game, Fox-owned WFLD-TV scored with a 51.3/73, outranking the New York and Los Angeles markets. Despite Chicago being a Bears town, there are plenty of Packers fans amongst us, and many local newscasts showed them partying in local bars (so much for former Bear Chris Zorich’s claim in a 1995 McDonald’s commercial that you should never wear a Packers uniform in Chicago.)

A special new episode of Glee was this year’s post-Super Bowl entertainment, and it scored a series-high 26.8 million viewers and an 11.1 rating among adults 18-49 (in Chicago, Glee pulled in a household 14.2/21.) However, this was lower than last year’s premiere of Undercover Boss after Super Bowl XLIV on CBS. Glee’s Super Bowl episode was panned by many in the blogosphere, with the writing being sacked more times than Steelers’ QB Ben Rothelisberger.