Eli Manning

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A down-to-the-wire game. Two storied teams with two star quarterbacks. A little Madonna, a little Ferris Bueller.   

The ingredients were all there for Sunday's Super Bowl to set a TV-ratings record for the third straight year. 

The questions was: Did the game get there—and did it bring The Voice along with it?

Oh, yeah.

Final numbers show the game averaged a mammoth 111.3 million viewers, making Super Bowl XLVI the most-watched show in TV history.

Airing shortly after the New York Giants' triumph, The Voice launched its second season before an average of 37.6 million viewers, way up over last year's Glee Super Bowl episode (26.8 million), and the biggest audience for a Super Bowl-night show since the premiere of Undercover Boss in 2010 (38.6 million).

And the huge numbers didn't stop there.

With 114 million viewers, Madonna's halftime show goes down in the books as the most-watched halftime show since Nielsen started keeping count in 1991.

Ratings-starved NBC will find out tonight if the feast continues—and if all those Smash ads paid off. 

Meanwhile, here's an updated look at the most-watched TV shows of all time, per Nielsen and NBC:

  1. Super Bowl XLVI (2012), 111.3 million viewers
  2. Super Bowl XLV (2011), 111 million viewers
  3. Super Bowl XLIV (2010), 106.5 million viewers
  4. M*A*S*H finale, 106 million viewers
  5. Super Bowl XLII (2009), 98.7 million viewers

(Originally published at 8:38 a.m. on Feb. 6, 2012.)

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