An appealing cross-country matchup made for heightened interest in Sunday’s ABC Super Bowl telecast, which became the most-watched television program in five years.
Capping a season that saw the league’s broadcast and cable partners draw their largest NFL auds in three years, Super Bowl XXXVII between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders averaged 88.6 million viewers (and a 40.7 household rating), according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen.
That’s nearly 2 million viewers more than last season (86.8 million on Fox) and the largest aud for the National Football League’s title game since the 1998 Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers drew 90 million on NBC.
ABC also estimates 137.6 million Americans watched at least some of the game, making it the second most-watched Super Bowl ever by this measure, behind only the 1996 Dallas-Pittsburgh game. (Population increases favor more recent Bowls.)
Game’s projected adults 18-49 rating of 36.4 is the best for a Super Bowl since the last time ABC carried the game (Rams-Titans in 2000).
Among Nielsen’s metered markets, the Super Bowl netted a 49.1 household rating/79 share in the Oakland-San Francisco area and a 52.7/71 in Tampa-St. Petersburg. It did a 39.1/54 in New York, a 43.3/71 in Los Angeles and a 46.6/66 in Chicago.
Reliable half-hour breakdowns weren’t available for the prelim nationals, but in the metered markets, the game peaked in the final 15 minutes (10-10:15 p.m. ET) with a 46.1 rating/63 share.
There wasn’t much of a drop at halftime, and NBC’s attempt at counterprogramming with a “Weekend Update” edition of “Saturday Night Live” fell flat. Spec appears to have drawn a second-place 5 share among adults 18-49, down from the 9 share a “Fear Factor” spec scared up a year ago.
Following the game and a lengthy 45-minute postgame show, ABC drama “Alias” didn’t get on the air in the East until 11 p.m.
The second-year spy drama registered a projected 8.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 17.4 million viewers overall. Although these scores are about twice what “Alias” averages this year, they are likely the lowest on record for a post-Super Bowl entertainment program.
And after the late local news, ABC’s new latenight show featuring comedian Jimmy Kimmel averaged a 5.4 rating/15 share in the metered markets. Among the big cities, its best scores — not surprisingly — came in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where it aired at 9:30 p.m. instead of the 12:30 a.m. start it endured in the East.