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Posted at 4:40 PM ET, 02/ 7/2011

Super Bowl clocks historic 111 million viewers; 'Glee' fumbles 84 million of them

By Lisa de Moraes

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers, right, holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy as he and teammate Clay Matthews celebrate after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday. (AP)

[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.

By Lisa de Moraes  | February 7, 2011; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Glee  
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It started after 10:30 - my DVR was scheduled to start recording then, and I had to fast forward through football analysis to get to the start.

On the other hand, they did advertise Glee in the listings as starting at 10:30.

Posted by: Hemisphire | February 7, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Alternate headline:

Post-Super Bowl Time Slot Doubles Musical Show's Ratings

Posted by: yellojkt | February 7, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I was slow to change the channel after the SB and caught about 10 minutes of Glee. Can someone explain the hype? That show really sucks!

Posted by: fishyken | February 7, 2011 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me or does Matthews look like Garth? Party on, Clay!

Posted by: randysbailin | February 8, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Confession: I think that, overall, Glee is pretty insipid. However, my partner enjoys it. The reason it wasn't on in our house was that it was more than an hour after the Stupidbowl ended and Glee still hadn't started! Too late for people who had to get up and work the next day. So she watched it online last night. Add THOSE numbers in to the tally!

Posted by: CellBioProf | February 8, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Can someone explain the hype? That show really sucks!


It started as a darkly comic show that included plotlines like fake pregnancies to save a marriage and baby steal schemes. But then these interesting plots were all wrapped up and not replaced with new plots, so it became a show about people trying to find thinly veiled excuses to break into songs while Jane Lynch tries harder and harder to find ways to be awesome as the show devolves into stunt casting (and I'm counting the big profile songs as stunt casting just as much as the big profile actors).

So...I guess no, this former fan can't explain the ongoing hype.

Posted by: thurdl01 | February 8, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I'm a Glee fan, but I didn't watch. For those of us that have to get up early to beat the morning rush hour traffic, 10:30 is late! Sorry, I went to bed and I will have to hope I can catch it in re-runs.

The solution is to have the Super Bowl on Saturday night. Can you imagine the parties that would take place then and how even more packed sports bars would be?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | February 8, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe Fox suits should not have let the post-game blather drone on quite so long, you think?"

I watched every last second of the postgame so I could enjoy the celebration, watch the highlights, and savor the end of the season. I changed the channel the moment they switched to Glee. I'm guessing most football fans did the same.

If anything they should have replaced Glee with another hour of interviews and highlights.

Posted by: Bowdenball | February 8, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I don't think a high school show about singing and dancing is really a good way to hold on to a Super Bowl audience. The audience for the Super Bowl tilts older and much more male.

Posted by: bperk420 | February 8, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I dunno about that. When fully 1/3 of the population is watching a program I think it's hard to say the viewership skews any particular way.

Posted by: fedssocr | February 8, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

thurdl01 hit the nail on the head. Glee used to be uniquely quirky and dark, whereas now it's firmly situated in daytime television plot lines, a la Grey's Anatomy. A shame, really, although the great quirky shows (Pushing Daisies, The Tick, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, etc.) never last, so I can't say I'm surprised.

Also agree with Bowdenball - I understand the network showing the Super Bowl is salivating over the opportunity to expose a large audience to one of its shows, but often times the pairings don't make any sense or aren't exciting. The slot makes most sense for premieres of brand new shows - I caught the premiere of Family Guy after Super Bowl 33 and watched it loyally for years afterward. Personally my ideal programming would be an NFL Films retrospective of the season - that would probably maintain the most viewers.

Posted by: crashinghero | February 8, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

IMHO they will ruin the formula if they oversaturate the product going to an 18 game season, and over doing the weekday slots. The wide appeal of football is partly because its easy to follow since most of the games fall on one day. Busy people have a week to catch up with everything and get ready for the following week. Change that and you will end up with the NBA/MLB formula, which is almost a full time job to keep up and most fans just live with the fact they'll miss games.

Posted by: Eman8 | February 8, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I think I'm one of the few hardcore football fans, that actually is a big fan of Glee. It seemed like insanely long time for the post game junk to end. I'm not big on Post Game wrap ups. I feel like I just sat here and watched 3 hours of football, I know whath happened. Just give them the trophy and let's move on.
But Glee was an awful choice for a Superbowl follow up. Why not one of the animated shows? I think football fans would have stuck around for Stewie and the Family Guy gang, followed by an episode of The Cleveland show.
All the being said, I sat and watched Glee, even though I was made uncomfortable by guys singing a Destiny's Child song. "Bills" Awkwaaaaaaaard. But well done though.

Posted by: RobAnthony | February 8, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I loved the Superbowl being from WI! I really like Glee and didn't think I'd be able to stay up but I did and I liked the show a lot. I was up until at least 1AM, got up at 5:30 AM. Then again, I was damned happy - the Packers won!

Posted by: MILWI | February 8, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

The ratings broke the record because the Packers & Steelers both have huge national followings!!

Posted by: dritei | February 10, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

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