The figure, released by Fox citing figures from Nielsen Media Research, comes precariously close to matching the most-watched network-TV program of all time: the last episode of the popular CBS series "M*A*S*H," which reached nearly 106 million viewers, according to Nielsen. The previously most-watched Super Bowl took place in 1996 on NBC, when about 94.1 million viewers watched the game. Approximately 93 million viewers watched 2007's matchup.
More interestingly, Fox says about 107.5 million viewers watched the last half hour of the contest, during which the Giants scored a game-winning touchdown to upset the Pats' previously undefeated season.
The Super Bowl is a big-audience perennial; Nielsen says Super Bowl matches account for 17 of the 20 most-watched TV shows in terms of total viewers. Aside from the "M*A*S*H" finale, the other two slots are episodes of ABC's groundbreaking "Roots" miniseries.
Other parties are claiming off-the-chart results due to the Super Bowl. GoDaddy.com, the internet domain-name provider that regularly runs raunchy ads during the event, saw record traffic at its site; its commercial in the game urged viewers to go watch the ad that Fox had rejected. "Before the game was over, we received right at 1.5 million visits to our web site. We had a whopping 2 million visitors for the day. This compares to last year when we had 500 thousand visitors to our Web site," wrote Bob Parsons, the company's CEO, in his blog at www.bobparsons.com.
Meanwhile, MySpace, which like Fox is owned by News Corp., released a statement saying its Super Bowl "profile," which contains opportunities to look at the ads that ran in last night's contest, received more than 14.5 million views as of this afternoon. As a bonus, Fox offered advertisers the chance to place ads on MySpace, and the network ran on-air promotions during the game urging viewers to visit. Advertisers were able to offer different perks to those who watch the ads online, including coupons, links to other websites or the chance to see movie trailers.