Super Bowl Falls Short Of Ratings Record

An estimated 108.4 million people watched the Baltimore Ravens' 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The most-watched events in U.S. TV history were last year's game, seen by 111.3 million, and the 2010 game, with 111 million viewers.
Associated Press,

NEW YORK (AP) -- With a partial power outage, an overly excited quarterback and a game that suddenly turned from snoozer to sizzler, CBS had its hands full at the Super Bowl. The game fell short of setting a viewership record, but it stands as the third most-watched program in U.S. television history.

The Nielsen Co. said an estimated 108.4 million people watched the Baltimore Ravens' 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The most-watched events in U.S. TV history were last year's game, seen by 111.3 million, and the 2010 game, with 111 million viewers.

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CBS had hoped to make it the fourth year in a row that football's ultimate game broke the record for most-watched event in American television history. But pro football ratings in general have been down slightly this year.

When the Ravens' Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown and gave his team a 28-6 lead, CBS' dream of a ratings record surely became even more distant. And then half the lights went out. CBS' ratings immediately dipped by two full ratings points in the overnight measurement of big cities.

When the lights returned, so did the 49ers. They quickly jumped back in the game and CBS' audience, no doubt fueled by social media chatter, came back, too. CBS was blessed with the dream of every network that telecasts the Super Bowl: a game that isn't decided until the final play.

CBS had a moment of dead air when the field darkened, since power was lost in the control booth where Jim Nantz and Phil Simms worked. After a commercial break, sideline anchor Steve Tasker appeared to say there had been a power outage. CBS then filled time with its football pregame team, showing highlights and speculating on how the delay would affect the teams.

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At the precise moment the lights went out, CBS' Armen Keteyian was in the NFL's control booth, conducting an interview with Frank Supovitz, senior vice president of the NFL in charge of events.

"In the NFL control room, there was no panic, but there was an undeniable amount of uncertainty about the cause," Keteyian said Monday on "CBS This Morning." Keteyian was filming for a "60 Minutes Sports" report scheduled to be aired Wednesday on Showtime. CBS News did not participate in live coverage of the power outage.

The power outage was an immediate hot topic for quips and questions online. There were an estimated 47.7 million social media posts during the game, according to the company Trendrr TV, which tracks activity on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. That compares with 17 million during last year's game and 3 million in 2010, Trendrr said.

Baltimore had the highest rating of any individual city, Nielsen said. San Francisco was not among the top 10 cities in ratings.

CBS showcased its freshman drama, "Elementary," to an estimated audience of 20.8 million people after the game. That was markedly down from the 37.6 million who watched "The Voice" on NBC after the 2011 game or the 26.8 million who saw "Glee" on Fox in 2010. CBS noted that the drama did not begin until 11:11 p.m. on the East Coast because of the Superdome power outage.

CBS drew criticism from the Parents Television Council for not editing out a profanity said by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco shortly after the game. Flacco was caught by microphones describing his team's victory as "f------ awesome."

"No one should be surprised that a jubilant quarterback might use profane language while celebrating a career-defining win, but that is precisely the reason why CBS should have taken some precautions," said Tim Winter, president of the lobbying group, asking for the Federal Communications Commission to rebuke CBS.

The network had no immediate comment Monday on the complaint.

CBS has said it was airing the pregame, postgame and halftime portions of the show on tape delay to guard against the use of bad language or wardrobe malfunctions. The postgame delay does not begin until the first block of commercials after the game, which hadn't happened before Flacco's expletive.

CBS' Craig Ferguson was quick to poke fun at the power outage on his comedy show, which aired after "Elementary." He was shown plugging actress Lucy Liu's cellphone charger into a power outlet at the Superdome, despite instructions not to use it.

"It's one outlet," Ferguson said. "What could possibly go wrong?"

The picture switched to the lights going out in half the dome.

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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 26, 2016
  • 1.
    4.4/12
  • 2.
    2.8/8
  • 3.
    2.5/7
  • 4.
    1.5/4
  • 5.
    0.8/2
  • 6.
    0.3/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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