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Super Bowl XLIV Most Watched Super Bowl of All Time

1 minute read | February 2010

According to preliminary results from The Nielsen Company, CBS’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLIV attracted an average audience of 106.5 million U.S. viewers, making it the most watched Super Bowl of all time. The game was viewed in 51.7 million households, making it the most watched television program of all time among households, beating the M*A*S*H finale in 1983, which was seen by an average of 50.2 million homes. The game scored a preliminary 45.0% U.S. household rating. 

“The Super Bowl remains the premier television event of the year, and is one of the few programs in an era of fragmented TV viewership that can still attract a huge national audience,” said Dave Thomas, Nielsen President, Media Client Services.  “This year’s Super Bowl had a compelling narrative, with the underdog New Orleans Saints coming from behind against powerhouse Indianapolis Colts.  There was tremendous interest in both the game and the advertisements leading up to last night and the excitement of the game itself translated into record ratings.”


Super Bowl Date Network Teams Avg. # of Viewers (000)
XLIV Feb 7, 2010* CBS New Orleans-Indianapolis 106,480
XLIII Feb 1, 2009* NBC Arizona-Pittsburgh 98,732
XLII Feb 3, 2008* FOX NY Giants-New England 97,448
XXX Jan. 28, 1996 NBC Dallas-Pittsburgh 94,080
XLI Feb 4, 2007* CBS Chicago-Indianapolis 93,184
Source: The Nielsen Company 

  * Live + Same Day Viewing Estimates Include DVR Playback On The Same Day, Defined As 3AM-3AM

Not surprisingly, New Orleans and Indianapolis earned some of the highest ratings among local markets, with averages of 56.3% and 54.2% of TV households, respectively, tuned to the game. This weekend’s Mid-Atlantic snowstorm kept many viewers inside their homes, leading to impressive ratings in Washington, DC: 

Market Rating Share Households (000)
New Orleans 56.3 82 357
Washington, DC 56 73 1307
Nashville 54.4 73 554
Indianapolis 54.2 80 607
Columbus, OH 54 74 488
Source: The Nielsen Company

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