Saints kick Colts at Super Bowl XLIV to set TV viewing record
[This report has been updated]
Mother Nature and the Saints have bestowed a new TV record on Super Bowl XLIV.
Nielsen reports that 106.5 million people watched the underdog New Orleans Saints win the Miami showdown with the Indianapolis Colts -- the largest audience in TV history for a single broadcast.
That viewing crowd handily beat last year's Pittsburgh Steelers vs Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl, which had averaged 98.7 million viewers, on NBC.
It also beats the series finale of "M*A*S*H," which had held the record as the most watched broadcast in U.S. television history, with an average audience of 106 million (actually 105.97 million).
(Frankly, "M*A*S*H's" nearly 27-year record remains the more impressive stat, given that when its series mop-up aired on Feb. 28, 1983 the country had about 75 million fewer people than today (308 million today), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Not surprisingly, Super Bowl enjoyed its biggest ratings in New Orleans, where 56.6 percent of TV homes were tuned into the game Sunday night. Thanks to Mother Nature, barely behind New Orleans was Washington. D.C. where a snowbound 56 percent of TV homes were glued to the game. About 54 percent of the TV homes in Indianapolis, meanwhile, watched the matchup, behind Nashville.
Though Sunday's game proved to be among the franchise's zippier - the Saints, in their first ever Super Bowl appearance, recovered from a first quarter rout to humiliate the Colts, 31-17, including a fourth-quarter Peyton Manning pass interception which Saints cornerback Tracy Porter ran back for a touchdown.
But CBS, which broadcast this year's Super Bowl, also owes a big wet kiss to Mother Nature who had rendered millions of potential viewers housebound Sunday night with a weekend snowstorm that buried the mid-Atlantic region. A record 32.4 inches fell on Dulles International Airport over two days.
The heavy snow across mid-Atlantic -- including Washington D.C. -- prevented people from going to someone else's house -- or, better yet, to a sports bar -- to watch the game. Sunday's game may not actually have attracted more viewers than last year's game -- just more miserable ones. Or, if you prefer, more "at-home" ones. Nielsen still does not clock out-of home viewing in its daily numbers, notes well-known TV analyst Steve Sternberg.
Lisa de Moraes
February 8, 2010; 2:24 PM ET
Categories: TV News
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