For the ninth time in the last 10 years, Americans have rallied to shatter the all-time Super Bowl ratings record.
According to Nielsen fast national data, NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX now stands as the most-watched program in U.S. TV history, averaging a staggering 114.4 million viewers. The New England Patriots-Seattle Seahawks nail-biter edged last year's draw on Fox (112.2 million) by 2%.
The record for overall viewership of the NFL championship game has been re-written nearly every year going back to Super Bowl XL (February 5, 2006). The only game in the last decade that failed to improve on its immediate predecessor was Super Bowl XLVII -- the 2013 CBS broadcast that dipped 2% to 108.7 million viewers after a 34-minute power outage put a damper on the Ravens-49ers showdown.
Viewership Sunday night peaked at 120.8 million viewers, when Pats quarterback Tom Brady put the finishing touches on a pair of drives that resulted in two touchdowns.
While the Pats' heart-pounding (or skull-clutching, depending on your rooting interest) 28-24 victory earned bragging rights as the most-watched TV event since Nielsen began measuring such things, the game will not go into the books as the top-rated Super Bowl, in terms of ratings points and share, as opposed to average viewers. Per Nielsen, Sunday night's contest averaged a 47.5 household rating/71 share -- meaning 47.5% of TV households were watching, and 71% of households with TVs that were on -- putting it well behind Super Bowl XVI (49.1/73).
At the game's crescendo, nearly three-quarters (74%) of all TVs in use were tuned in to the NBC broadcast.