Super Bowl, super ratings

The Buffalo Bills kept things close long enough to generate huge Super Bowl numbers, as the game crossed the Nielsen goal line with its highest rating in seven years.

NBC’s game coverage tackled a 45.4 rating, 66 share in Nielsen, up 1% over the first Dallas-Buffalo matchup a year ago and the highest for any program since Super Bowl XXI (N.Y. Giants-Denver) ground out a 45.8/66 in 1987.

The Peacock network, which ordered expedited national ratings for the game only, also reported that 134.8 million viewers saw at least part of its telecast , making it the most-watched program by that standard in TV history. Average viewership for the duration of the broadcast was undoubtedly much lower, though NBC didn’t provide that figure.

In the same vein, 58.6 million households watched part of the game, compared to an average 42.8 million per minute. The rating is based on the number of TV households, a pool that has expanded gradually to the current level of 94.2 million.

This year’s rating ranks 10th among the 28 Super Bowl telecasts. The record remains 1982’s nail-biter pitting San Francisco against Cincinnati (49.1/73). Only two of the games have been won by fewer than 10 points since.

Super Bowl XXVIII will give NBC its first outright weekly ratings win of the season, having tied CBS for top honors once before. The network, which paid more than $ 40 million for broadcast rights, charged a record $ 900,000 per 30-second commercial during the game, up 6% from last year’s rate.

Efforts to promote two of NBC’s comedies, “The John Larroquette Show” and “The Good Life,” didn’t fare that well. NBC’s half-hour post-game show averaged a 27.2/41 in the 29 metered markets, while the sitcoms averaged around a 25 share from 10-11 p.m. ET.

Despite being TV’s highest-rated event every year, the Super Bowl has a spotty record when it comes to providing a platform for promoting series.

NBC used the opportunity last year to introduce the drama “Homicide: Life on the Street.” ABC will broadcast next year’s game, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of “Monday Night Football.”

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