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Final ratings are in for the 2014 Super Bowl — and, contrary to early returns, which saw the game ranking fifth all-time, the NFL season finale ended up being the biggest to date. An average 112.2 million viewers tuned in to see the Seattle Seahawks blow the Denver Broncos out of the water, making it the most watched Super Bowl and the most watched program in U.S. television history.
That’s up nearly 4 million from last year’s Super Bowl, which averaged 108.4 million viewers. That game, between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, though close, suffered an audience drop when a power outage halted the game for 30 minutes.
Super Bowl XLVIII breaks the record set by the 2012 Super Bowl. That game averaged 111.3 million viewers, narrowly topping 2010’s 111 million.
This year’s matchup, which measured up to last year’s game with a 46.7 rating among households and a 69 share, saw its best ratings toward the end of the first half. Between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., the Super Bowl averaged a 46.9 rating and a 71 share among households.
Advertisers, who shelled out a record $4 million for a 30-second commercial, got the best bang for their buck in those minutes leading up to the halftime show — when the Seahawks already held a commanding 22-0 lead. That’s particularly good news for Volkswagen, Wonderful Pistachios, H&M, Subway, Toyota, Sonos, Coca-Cola, CarMax and M&Ms — all of which paid for ad time toward the end of the second quarter. The block also included trailers for Paramount Pictures’ Transformers: Age of Extinction and Columbia Pictures’ The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
As for the halftime show, Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers also set a new high, with 115.3 million viewers tuning in during the performance, besting Beyonce (110.8 million in 2013) and previous champ Madonna (114.0 million in 2012).
Viewership for the big post-Super Bowl shows was steady with 2013. Episodes of Fox comedies New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine averaged 20.8 million viewers over 62 minutes — off just 60,000 from last year’s Elementary.
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