The NFL’s ratings slide continued through its final game of the season. According to Nielsen data released Monday, viewership for Super Bowl LII was measured at 103.4 million, the lowest figure for the game since 2009 and a 7 percent drop from last year’s game.
The good news for the NFL is that its annual championship game still easily reigns supreme among all TV shows, and to a lesser extent, that the Super Bowl ratings drop from last year was lower than the league’s nearly 10 percent plunge for its regular season games. Ratings for most TV programming is down, as people increasingly cut the cord from cable and follow events on social media.
To that end, NBC, which broadcast this year’s Super Bowl, announced Monday that the game delivered a total audience of 106 million, when factoring in a number of Internet platforms. The network claimed that the game was the most live-streamed Super Bowl ever, delivering an average of just over 2 million online viewers with a peak of 3.1 million concurrent streams.
NBC said that TV viewership peaked in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ tense, 41-33 triumph over the Patriots, with 112.3 million tuning in from 10 to 10:15 p.m. The average of 103.4 million made Super Bowl LII the 10th most-watched TV show of all time, behind previous installments of the game and, in ninth place at 106 million, the 1983 series finale of “M.A.S.H.”
Last year’s Super Bowl, which saw the Patriots stage a huge comeback to beat the Falcons in overtime, drew an average of 111.3 million viewers to the Fox telecast, placing it fifth on the all-time list. The No. 1 spot is held by Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, in which the Patriots defeated the Seahawks and which was the last time NBC televised the game.
“With an all-time top 10 audience, the Super Bowl once again proved that it’s the most dominant and consistent property on television,” Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC broadcasting and sports, said in a statement. “Super Bowl LII delivered for all of our partners, and provided us with the unique opportunity to give America a look ahead at the Olympic Winter Games, which begin live on NBC this Thursday night.”
NBC said it expects that January’s AFC championship game, with an average of 44.1 million, will stand as the No. 2 most-watched TV program of 2018, reflecting the extraordinary popularity of the Super Bowl. The network also noted the last time the Eagles and Patriots squared off for the NFL championship, in 2005, that game drew considerably fewer viewers (86.1 million viewers) and had a lower share (41.1 to 43.1) than Sunday’s event.
Still, Super Bowl LII attracted the fewest viewers since 98.7 million watched the Steelers edge the Cardinals in 2009. The NFL’s regular season games in 2017 had a 9.7 percent drop in viewership from 2016, which itself saw an eight percent drop from the previous year.
According to NBC, the Philadelphia and Boston markets ranked second and third, respectively, in terms of Super Bowl LII’s local rating. The top market was Buffalo, with a 56.4 rating, while the market that hosted the game, Minneapolis-St. Paul, was fourth at 54.9.
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