Super Bowl's Revised, Record Final Score: 98.7 Million Viewers

Game ends up outdrawing last year's monster contest, ranks as second-most watched commercial broadcast in TV history

By Joal Ryan Feb 03, 2009 2:00 PMTags
Ben Roethlisberger, SteelersAP Photo/Chris O'Meara

Weekend TV's Big Winner, Besides the Pittsburgh Steelers: The National Football League. The industry's most important partner delivered. And for the second year in a row, it delivered a record-sized Super Bowl audience.  

Super Bowl XLIII averaged 98.7 million, revised final Nielsen numbers showed today. The game outdrew the previous title-holder, last year's Super Bowl XLII, by about 1 million. It goes down as the second biggest commercial broadcast in TV history. Overall, 151.6 million, or one in two Americans, caught at least some of the action, NBC said.

But Weren't the Ratings Down from Last Year? Only until all the numbers came in, then Nielsen's 95.4 million estimate gave way to its stunning 98.7 million conclusion.   

What About The Office? It was big. (Cue Michael Scott: "That's what she said.")

The hourlong, post-Super Bowl episode averaged an estimated 22 million. Prior to last night, the comedy series was averaging 8.2 million for the season.

Among post-Super Bowl shows since 2004, per Nielsen stats, last night's Office ranked fifth, just ahead of Grey's Anatomy (21 million in 2006) and quite a bit behind the top-ranking House (29.1 million in 2008).

Say, Did Bruce Springsteen Really Say "Guacamole Dip" on Live TV? Ask the estimated 86 million who tuned in the game from 8-8:30 p.m., when the Springsteen-paced halftime show aired.

And Now for a Sound You Don't Here Much These Days: Ka-Ching! NBC sold out its ad spots, raking in a record $206 million, the network said. In-game commercials went for $3 million each.

Domain Names Sell: Per a TiVo survey of TiVo users, a GoDaddy spot that had absolutely nothing to do with breasts was the most watched—and rewatched.

Cavemen Dissed Again: According to a MovieTickets.com poll, only 34 percent of respondents remembered seeing the Super Bowl spot for the Jack Black comedy Year One, compared to 83 percent for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and 79 percent for J.J. Abrams' Star Trek.

Who Didn't Watch the Super Bowl? Young men 18-34 who can quote Family Guy (3.7 million) and American Dad (3.3 million) the way other guys can reel off touchdown stats. Also, people who think nothing of watching three solid hours of Wipeout (4.2 million overall).

Football Fever Must've Really Helped Friday Night Lights, Right? Define really. On Friday, the show was up slightly from the previous week (estimated 4 million versus 3.9 million). It ran third in the 9 p.m. hour in viewers and the demo, per stats reported by MediaWeek.

(Originally published Feb. 2, 2009 at 10:02 a.m. PT.)