Super Bowl XLII Ratings Facts And Figures

Super Bowl Manning Photo
Photo: Harry How
The New York Giants’ remarkable 17-14 upset over the perfection-seeking New England Patriots was a Super Bowl for the ages, with a record-setting three lead changes in the game’s final quarter.  It was watched by more Americans than any of the 41 Super Bowls that preceded it, and is the second most-watched program in television history.
According to fast national figures released today by Nielsen Media Research, Super Bowl XLII averaged 97.5 million viewers, shattering the previous record audience of 94.1 million set by Super Bowl XXX in 1996 on NBC that featured the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers.  The only program in the history of television to draw a larger audience than Super Bowl XLII is the final episode of the iconic series M*A*S*H*, which posted an average audience of 106 million viewers on Feb. 28, 1983.
Super Bowl XLII’s total audience of 148.3 million viewers (persons age 2+ watching all or part of the game) is also record-setting, surpassing the previous high of 144.4 million viewers posted for Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004 when New England defeated the Carolina Panthers, 32-29.  
“In this unprecedented run of championship events on FOX, which began with the World Series, the viewership for Super Bowl XLII is nothing short of historic,” said FOX Sports Chairman David Hill.  “In addition to the game, which was one of the most thrilling Super Bowls ever, we’re seeing bigger audiences for the pregame and postgame, which completely validates our decision to include a greater focus on the celebrities, parties and music that surround the game, all of which was masterfully quarterbacked by Ryan Seacrest.”
See below for additional highlights:
Super Bowl XLII posted a 43.2/65 household rating/share, and is the highest-rated Super Bowl in eight years (SB XXXIV, St. Louis/Tennessee, 43.3/63)

Super Bowl XLII out-rates last year’s game by +1% (42.6/64, Indianapolis/Chicago)

The game’s audience peaked between 9:30-10:00 PM ET at 105.7 million viewers, the most-watched portion of a Super Bowl ever, and almost equaled the M*A*S*H* finale’s record average audience of 106 million viewers

Last night’s game, postgame, and HOUSE special combined to deliver the highest-rated night in FOX’s history in both households (39.9/60) and Adults 18-49 (34.8/69)

For the week, FOX averaged a 12.9/28 among Adults 18-49, making this the highest-rated week in FOX’s history and the highest-rated on any network since 1996 (NBC, week of 7/22/96, Atlanta Summer Olympics). In the season-to-date A18-49 ratings race, first-place FOX now leads second-place ABC and NBC by nine-tenths of a rating point, the largest lead any network has had through Super Sunday in ten years

Initial tune-in for the game was outstanding. Super Bowl XLII earned a 39.4/63 from 6:31-7:00, the best rating for the game’s opening half-hour in eight years

Younger demographics saw significant ratings gains over a year ago.  Ratings were up +7% among Adults 18-49 (37.6 vs. 35.2), +6% among Men 18-49 (41.6 vs. 39.1), and +7% among Women 18-49 (33.6 vs. 31.3)

The entire SUPER BOWL XLII PREGAME SHOW averaged a 10.8/22 (20.1 mill.) from 2:00-6:31, a +6% gain over last year's 10.2/20 and +7% better than FOX’s last Super Bowl pre-game (a 10.1/20 in 2005). Yesterday’s average audience of 20.1 million makes it the most-watched Super Bowl pregame show since 2002

The new pregame format, which for the first time included Ryan Seacrest’s Red Carpet Interviews, paid clear dividends as ratings growth was driven by younger viewers and particularly younger women. While the pregame grew by +6% nationally, it grew by an impressive +11% among Men 18-49 (9.3 vs. 8.4) and an even better +16% among Women 18-49 (6.4 vs. 5.5). The last half-hour of the show fared especially well, earning a 30.5/52 from 6:00-6:31, a +16% improvement over last year’s 26.2/45 on CBS

The thrilling ending of Super Bowl XLII triggered a huge 30.1/47 for the postgame (63.9 mill.), the most-watched Super Bowl postgame show in 10 years (since 64.8 million watched in 1998)

Following the Super Bowl postgame show, a special airing of HOUSE earned a 12.8 Adults18-49 rating and a 15.7/27 household rating/share. The 12.8 among A18-49 is a +29% jump over last year’s post-Super Bowl show, Criminal Minds on CBS (9.9)

In both Households and Adults 18-49, last night’s airing of HOUSE ranks as FOX’s best hour of post-Super Bowl entertainment programming since THE X-FILES in 1997

Boston topped all markets with a 55.6 local rating and an extraordinary 81 share. That rating ranks second among the Patriots six Super Bowl appearances, trailing only their 2002 Super Bowl XXXVI win (56.1)

Victorious New York put up a 44.9 rating and 67 share, which ranks second among the five Super Bowl appearances by New York teams behind 1987's 52.4 for the Giants’ win in Super Bowl XXI

Host market Phoenix delivered a 47.0/72, a +9% improvement over last year's 43.0 in the host city of Miami, while defending champion Indianapolis notched an outstanding 54.1/73 share as they watched their conference rival suffer one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history

Neutral markets posting outstanding double-digit gains vs. last year’s Super Bowl include Detroit, +23% (47.5 vs. 38.6.); Washington, DC, +18% (50.3 vs. 42.6); and St. Louis, +16% (47.5 vs. 41.1)