The Atlanta Falcons’ 25-point third-quarter lead likely caused viewership for the Super Bowl to drop to its lowest level since 2013, according to preliminary figures released by Nielsen.
Fox’s coverage of the New England Patriots’ 34-28 overtime victory in Super Bowl LI Sunday averaged 111.3 million viewers, making it the fifth most- watched program in U.S. television history based on the figure traditionally used to determine how many people watched a particular show.
CBS’ coverage of Super Bowl 50 last year averaged 111.864 million, Super Bowl XLIX on NBC in 2015 averaged a record 114.442 million viewers and Super Bowl XLVIII on Fox in 2014 averaged 112.191 million.
The last time a Super Bowl averaged fewer than 111 million viewers was Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 on CBS, which averaged 108.693 million viewers.
The 2013 game had a 34-minute interruption of play caused by a power outage in the Superdome which was not included in the average viewership.
Another 1.72 million viewers watched the live-stream of Sunday’s game, making it the most live-streamed Super Bowl.
The Spanish-language telecast on Fox Deportes averaged more than 650,000 viewers, the most for a non-soccer event on a Spanish-language cable network in the U.S.
A record 172 million people watched at least six minutes of Sunday’s game, the first Super Bowl to go into overtime. The previous record was 167 million set last year.
Both the average viewership and total viewership figures include people watching the game at parties at other people’s homes, but not at restaurants and bars. Nielsen has long limited its figures to households and excluded businesses because of the difficulty of accurately measuring viewership.
A breakdown of viewership by half-hours was not immediately available.
The premiere of “24: Legacy” which followed Fox’s postgame coverage averaged 17.6 million viewers, 16.6 percent less than the 21.12-million average for the episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” that immediately followed CBS’ postgame coverage last year.
Final ratings figures are scheduled to be released Tuesday, but are expected to be similar to Monday’s figures.
—City News Service