TV Ratings: Super Bowl 2018 Pulls 103.4 Million, Least Viewers Since 2009

NBC cites a total audience of 106 million viewers with streaming, but either way it's a steep drop from 2017.
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Sunday's Super Bowl LII, the second-highest-scoring game in its 52-year history, hit nearly a 10-year ratings low with updated viewership tallies.

The marquee event of the television calendar, which saw the Philadelphia Eagles top the New England Patriots 41-33 for their first Super Bowl victory, averaged 103.4 million viewers. With streaming, NBC cites a total audience of 106 million viewers. Either way, it's a steep drop from last year's linear haul. 

Initial returns had the game averaging a 47.4 overnight rating among metered market households on NBC. That was down 3 percent from comparable numbers for the 2017 game. The past two Super Bowls, which averaged overnight ratings of 48.8 (in 2017) and 49 (in 2016), were each steady with over 111 million viewers. (There was a massive spike in streaming in 2017, which technically put the game at 113.7 million viewers.)

It was certainly a competitive game. Though the Eagles maintained a lead for all but a few minutes of the fourth quarter, the Patriots had a very real chance of winning their sixth championship with quarterback Tom Brady until the final minutes.

Still, this year's Super Bowl seemed predestined to see fatigue no matter the kind of game. Concerns about NFL interest were aplenty heading into Sunday, and overall league ratings were down for the second year in a row, falling just shy of 10 percent for the regular season.

There is no singular reason for the drops, but poor primetime matchups early in the season, ongoing controversy about players choosing to kneel during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality against black Americans and the natural ebb and flow of interest all clearly played some part. The NFL was gifted two seemingly ideal markets for the Super Bowl in Philadelphia and New England, though another real concern over the game's TV appeal, frankly, has been the frequency with which the Patriots have appeared in recent years.

The Super Bowl's highest rating was the last time NBC aired the game. The 2015 NFL Championship, a narrow Patriots win over the Seattle Seahawks, averaged a stunning 114.4 million viewers. (Overnights for that game were also at a high, with a 49.7 rating and a 72 share.) 

Later on Sunday evening, NBC scored some particularly good returns with the drama This Is Us, which ranked as the top-rated post-game series since The Voice six years ago. It netted a 16.2 overnight rating among households in early numbers, an improvement of nearly 60 percent from Fox's broadcast of 24 in 2017. That ultimately translated to 27 million viewers, making it the most-watched scripted series to air on NBC since E.R. on the night of the Friends finale in 2004.
 
A special The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon also was at a high, besting its previous post-game returns with a 5.7 rating among metered market households. It currently ranks as Tonight's No. 3 telecast of the Fallon era. It ultimately garnered 8.4 million viewers.