One for the record books – yet again

Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning

The Voice and Smash get off to impressive starts

Here we go again – for the third year in a row, the Super Bowl has set another viewing record – but just barely.

Sundays Super Bowl XLVI game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis drew 111.3 million viewers – up 300,000 from Super Bowl XLV matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, which aired last year on Fox.

Super Bowl XLIV’s matchup between the Colts and Saints drew 106.5 million viewers, setting a record for the most-watched program ever in 2010, topping the audience tally for the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983 – a record that stood for 27 years.

The Giants faced the Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time in four years – they last met in Super Bowl XLII – and just like in that tilt, the Giants prevailed to win their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.

Super Bowl XLVI just missed scoring the highest overnight rating in history – a 47.8 compared to last year’s 47.9 Super Bowl XLV earned, which tied Super Bowl XXI (Giants-Broncos, 1987) for highest overnight ever (missed it by that much!) In Boston, Super Bowl XLVI scored the highest overnight HH rating ever of any NFL game in the market’s history with a 56.7/81 for WHDH – a station record, and topped all metered markets. In New York, NBC-owned WNBC nabbed a 49.7/74, the second-highest overnight rating ever for an NFL game in the Big Apple.

Home market Indianapolis, where the game was carried on WTHR, scored a 56.4/79. In Chicago, Super Bowl XLVI averaged a 44.2 rating and was viewed in 1.54 million homes. Ratings were down 14 percent from last year when the Green Bay packers and Pittsburgh Steelers played in Super Bowl XLV (the absence of the Packers and two northeastern teams in the tilt may have likely played a role in the ratings drop, but the game still drew more viewers than any television program in Chicagoland this season.)

Among adults 18-49, Super Bowl XLVI did a remarkable 40.5/78.

As for Madonna’s halftime show, it actually out-rated the ratings average for the game – a 48.1/72 in the overnights.

The Voice

All right, enough about the game – what about The Voice, the next generation in reality competition shows?

Well, the show that could save NBC may exactly do just that – Sunday’s second-season premiere after the Super Bowl (at approximately 9:21 pm CT) drew an impressive 37.6 million viewers and a 16.3/37 in adults 18-49 – the highest rating for an NBC entertainment series in the demo since the Friends finale on May 6, 2004. The rating also was up 47 percent in the demo from last year’s post-Super Bowl show on Fox (Glee.)

The Voice then premiered in its regular Monday night time time slot and drew an impressive 10.6/16 in the overnight ratings; a 6.6/16 among adults 18-49; and 17.7 million viewers – the highest ratings in the time period (7-9 CT) since 2007, when NBC aired Deal or No Deal and Heroes.

Impressive start for The Voice – it finished first in every half-hour and beat CBS’ strong Monday night sitcom line-up. The Voice would also likely weather the return of Dancing With The Stars very well since the ABC skews older. Dancing might have to step up the game in the casting department if it wants to stem losses.

Also receiving a lot of hype during the Super Bowl was new musical dram Smash. The new Monday night drama debuted with 11.5 million viewers and a 3.8/10 in adults 18-49. Smash drew twice as may women and it did men – by a two-to-one margin, no doubt. In comparison with last year’s heavily hyped Chicago Code, which debuted the night after the Super Bowl on Fox, Smash outdelivered the embarrassingly hokey crime drama by 58 percent.

(Updated on 2012-02-10 to include Chicago ratings information)