• Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024
Super Bowl thriller was the most-watched program ever, averaging 123.4 million viewers
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates after the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. The Kansas City Chiefs won 25-22 against the San Francisco 49ers. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The longest Super Bowl game will also go down as the most-watched program in television history.

According to Nielsen and Adobe Analytics, Kansas City's 25-22 overtime victory over San Francisco on Sunday night averaged 123.4 million viewers across television and streaming platforms. That shattered last year's mark of 115.1 million for Kansas City's last-play victory over Philadelphia and is a 7% increase.

The game was televised by CBS, Nickelodeon and Univision and streamed on Paramount+ as well as the NFL's digital platforms.

Nielsen also said a record 202.4 million watched at least part of the game across all networks, a 10% jump over last year's figure of 183.6 million.

The CBS broadcast averaged 120 million. The network's previous mark for its most-watched Super Bowl was 112.34 million for the 2016 game between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers.

Some of the increase can be attributed to a change in the way viewers are counted. Nielsen began including out-of-home viewers in its ratings in 2020, but only from limited markets. That measurement expanded to all 50 states beginning this year.

Sunday's game was only the second of the 58 Super Bowls to go to overtime. The previous one was in 2017, when New England rallied from a 28-3 deficit and beat Atlanta 34-28.

"I was managing my expectations, but I had a bit of hope that it would happen," CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said of overtime, which was set up when San Francisco kicker Jake Moody had an extra point blocked in the fourth quarter, which kept it a three-point game. "I can't imagine a Super Bowl any better or more exciting than this."

Kansas City sent it to overtime on Harrison Butker's field goal. After the 49ers kicked a field goal on the opening possession of OT, the Chiefs won when Patrick Mahomes threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman.

This Super Bowl had the added attraction of Taylor Swift in attendance. The pop superstar is dating Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, a romance that has brought new fans to the NFL.

It was the second straight year the Super Bowl averaged more than 100 million viewers after a period where four of the five games before 2023 had fallen short of that number because of cord-cutting. That included 95.2 million for the 2021 Super Bowl between Tampa Bay and Kansas City, which was the game's lowest TV-only average since 2007.

Univision averaged more than 2.2 million viewers, the highest Super Bowl viewership on record for a Spanish-language network. The Super Bowl has been televised in Spanish in the United States since 2014.

The NFL playoffs averaged 38.5 million viewers the first three weekends, a 9% increase over last year.

That followed a regular season that averaged 17.9 million, tied for the second highest since averages were first tracked in 1995.

Joe Reedy is an AP sports writer.


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