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Super Bowl XLV Most Viewed Telecast in U.S. Broadcast History

2 minute read | February 2011

According to preliminary results from The Nielsen Company, last night’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLV on FOX had an average audience of 111 million viewers, surpassing last year’s Super Bowl, and thereby breaking the record, yet again, for the most watched television program of all time in the U.S.  The game was viewed in 53.3 million households, with a preliminary 46.0 U.S. household rating.

Most Watched Telecasts of All Time (U.S.)
Program Date Network Avg. # of Viewers (000)
Super Bowl XLV February 6, 2011 FOX 111,010
Super Bowl XLIV February 7, 2010 CBS 106,476
M*A*S*H Special February 28, 1983 CBS 105,970
Super Bowl XLIII February 1, 2009 NBC 98,732
Super Bowl XLII February 3, 2008 FOX 97,448
Super Bowl XXX January 28, 1996 NBC 94,076
Source: The Nielsen Company.

“Super Bowl XLV caps what is arguably the most successful season that any sports league has ever had,” said Pat McDonough,   “The number of people watching NFL games has never been higher, with 24% more people watching the average NFL game this year than just five years ago.  The Super Bowl continues to be in a category of its own, with an appeal that transcends sports and extends even to the commercials.  Because of the cliff-hanger nature of the game, viewers were tuning in until the very end, driving viewing levels to new heights.”

Over the past several years, the NFL has attracted larger audiences by broadening its appeal to new audiences, including women and Hispanics, by building up high-profile players – especially quarterbacks – to personify the league and by cross-promoting the games across multiple television networks and emerging digital platforms.

Pittsburgh and Milwaukee Lead Local Market viewing

In the local markets, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh were tied, with a 59.7 household rating.  Other high local market ratings include Columbus, OH and Nashville.

Top Five Local Markets, Super Bowl XLV
Market Rating Share Households (000)
Pittsburgh 59.7 87 693
Milwaukee 59.7 85 538
Columbus, OH 56.2 74 515
Nashville 54.2 74 564
Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News 54.2 76 388
Source: The Nielsen Company.

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