If it felt like everyone you knew in the U.S. was watching the Super Bowl over the weekend, that’s because it’s probably not far from the truth. Super Bowl XLIX was the most-watched program in American television history, according to The Nielsen Company.
The big game was seen by more than 114.4 million people, topping last year’s Super Bowl by 2.2 million viewers. It’s worth noting that of the eight most-watched programs in U.S. history, various iterations of the Super Bowl account for all but one of the programs — the lone exception being the 1983 series finale of M.A.S.H., which brought in 106.0 million viewers.
This year’s Super Bowl was winner all around, it seems, as the halftime show with Katy Perry was also the most-watched halftime show in Nielsen history, with 118.5 million viewers (4.1 million more viewers than the actual game received) — meaning that more than 4 million people tuned in only to watch the halftime show. The pre-game show on NBC also set the record for pre-kickoff Super Bowl programming with 72.7 million viewers.
Here’s how the eight most-watched programs in U.S. history rank, according to Nielsen:
MOST-WATCHED PROGRAMS IN U.S. TELEVISION HISTORY*
1. 114.4 Million – Super Bowl XLIX, NBC (Last Night’s Game)
2. 112.2 Million – Super Bowl XLVIII, FOX (Feb. 2014)
3. 111.3 Million – Super Bowl XLVI, NBC (Feb. 2012)
4. 111.0 Million – Super Bowl XLV, FOX (Feb. 2011)
5. 108.7 Million – Super Bowl XLVII, CBS (Feb. 2013)
6. 106.5 Million – Super Bowl XLIV, CBS (Feb. 2010)
7. 106.0 Million – M.A.S.H. Finale, CBS (Feb. 1983)
8. 98.7 Million – Super Bowl XLIII, NBC (Feb. 2009)
*for Super Bowls, includes only full game telecasts
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