The second overtime game in Super Bowl history delivered a gigantic audience on Sunday — the biggest one in the history of total-viewer ratings, in fact.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ 25-22 victory over the San Francisco 49ers averaged 120.25 million viewers on CBS, by itself the largest telecast on record. Simulcasts on Nickelodeon, Univision, Paramount+ and other digital platforms pushed the total to 123.7 million. No other broadcast in American TV history — at least as measured by Nielsen — has drawn more people.
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CBS says the Super Bowl was the most streamed ever; Paramount+’s portion of the audience is rolled into the 120.25 million viewers for the CBS telecast as they were showing the same feed. Univision averaged about 2.25 million viewers for its Spanish-language broadcast (a record for a Super Bowl broadcast in Spanish), which would put Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob-themed alternate telecast at 1.2 viewers.
The 123.7 million viewers are based on final same-day ratings from Nielsen for the linear telecasts and Adobe Analytics figures for streaming.
The game scored a 42.1 household rating for CBS, meaning 42.1 percent of all TV homes in the United States watched the game. That’s the highest household number for a Super Bowl since a 43.1 rating in 2018. (Adding in the other telecasts brings the total household rating to 43.5.) Among adults 18-49, CBS’ telecast had a huge 36.0 rating — equivalent to 47.47 million people in that age range.
Super Bowl LVIII grew by 7 percent over last year’s game, which drew 115.1 million viewers for Fox (a figure revised up from 113.1 million almost three months after the fact). Until Sunday, that ranked as the most watched broadcast in U.S. television history, at least officially. Nielsen didn’t include out of home ratings in its totals until 2021, but a custom report for the 2017 Super Bowl put the game at 124.6 million viewers including those watching away from home. It’s also possible a few other past games — every Super Bowl from 2013-16 averaged more than 111 million viewers — would have topped Sunday’s total had out of home viewing been included.
Going further back, estimates for the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 across ABC, CBS and NBC ranged from 125 million to 150 million viewers, with the high end being almost three fourths of the entire U.S. population at the time (but again, those are not official counts). The final episode of M*A*S*H in February 1983 still holds the record for the largest household rating, with 60.2 percent of all TV homes watching the finale.
Following the game, the series premiere of Tracker starring Justin Hartley brought in 18.4 million viewers on CBS despite an 11:14 p.m. ET start time, among the latest ever for a post-Super Bowl show. After late local news, special editions of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and After Midnight drew 3.74 million and 2.03 million viewers, respectively.
Feb. 13, 8:20 a.m. Updated with final ratings figures for the Super Bowl.
Feb. 13, 8:50 a.m. Added ratings figures for post-Super Bowl shows on CBS.
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