Super Bowl clocks historic 111 million viewers; 'Glee' fumbles 84 million of them
[This blog entry has been updated with final ratings for Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast]
Even an opening number festooned with hot blue-wigged cheerleaders sporting sparkler-bedazzled Gaultier-ish bra tops failed to keep Sunday's Super Bowl-watching horde on board for the "Glee" episode that followed.
Sunday's Super Bowl XLV became the most-watched program in U.S. television history, averaging 111 million viewers to break the prior record of 106.5 million set one year ago by Super Bow XLIV as well as the 106.0 million people who watched the series finale of "M*A*S*H" which had held the record from 1983 to 2010.
[Don't be confused by press reports that the audience for Sunday's Super Bowl was 162.9 million people. That is not the game's average audience. That is the so called "reach" number -- how many people who watched as little as six minutes of the game. This is a number that used to be relevant to advertisers because it was widely assumed anyone who watched six minutes of a show probably saw one ad break. Network reps -- particularly those who work for sports divisions -- like to hawk the "reach" stat because, well, it's bigger.]
But while Sunday's football game is the most watched TV show in our country's history, the "Glee" show that followed - in which the burly boys of the McKinley High football team feuded with not only the glee club but also the school's hockey team, fumbled about 84 million of those football fans, averaging just under 27 million viewers in the coveted post-Super Bowl timeslot.
That's a whole lot smaller crowd than the 39 million who'd stuck around after last year's Super Bowl to watch CBS's unveiling of the Practically Perfect post Super Bowl Show, aka "Undercover Boss" in which the head of a waste disposal company went undercover and discovered his company's middle management was botching his Vision and making life somewhat hellish for employees. (And that "Undercover Boss" premiere had been the third highest rated post-Super Bowl audience ever, behind the famous post Super Bowl "Friends" episode of 1996 that clocked a whopping 53 million viewers, and the post-Super Bowl premiere of "Survivor: The Australian Outback" that averaged 45 million in 2001.)
Sunday's game marks the sixth consecutive year that Super Bowl viewing has increased. Over those six years, the franchise has gained nearly 25 million viewers. According to Nielsen Media Research, about 163 million people caught at least six minutes of Sunday's game, which means they presumably saw at least one ad break. And were presumably disappointed because this year's sure was one disappointing crop of Super Bowl ads.
Fox on Monday was making sure the press was aware that Sunday's "Glee" got off to a bit of a late start, at 10:30 p.m. As a night wears on, the harder a show has to compete against "Going to Bed."
But you and I know the bigger issue "Glee" faced following the Super Bowl on Sunday is that it's, you know -- "Glee."
And, to Fox's point: last year's "Undercover Boss" premiere had started at 10:13 p.m.--a full 26 minutes earlier than "Glee" did on Sunday. But Sunday's Super Bowl game had actually ended at 10:07 p.m... Maybe Fox suits should not have let the post-game blather drone on quite so long, you think?
For comparison sake, when "Glee" returned from a four-month hiatus last April, in a timeslot following "American Idol" it clocked just under 14 million viewers. And "Glee's" ode to Brit-Brit episode attracted an average of 13.5 million fans, while the Madonna-centric episode snared about 13 million.
Lisa de Moraes
| February 7, 2011; 4:40 PM ET
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