Exciting Super Bowl Game, Less-Than-Stellar TV Ratings

Before I punt and race downfield for a TV tackle -- let me mull the biggest single program viewing metric of the year. 

It was one of the most exciting Super Bowl finishes. The New England Patriots came back from the biggest point deficits in history. The team’s quarterback earned another MVP trophy from record-passing results. The Super Bowl had its first ever overtime game. 

And it didn't result in a record number of TV viewers.

The Fox broadcasting network pulled in a Nielsen 111.3 million viewers, down 1% from last year’s 111.9 million viewers, as the Denver Broncos won in Peyton Manning’s final game. But not in a close game -- 24-10 -- over the Carolina Panthers.  All in all, this year’s game was the fourth-highest Super Bowl in terms of overall U.S. viewership.

Two years before, the most-viewed Super Bowl was another New England Patriots win. This time against the Seattle Seahawks which also was decided in the closing seconds. It pulled in 114.4 million viewers.



This year’s game also pulled in 650,000 viewers on simulcast with Spanish-language network, Fox Deportes. The year before, ESPN Deportes had 483,735 viewers.

Does this means -- somewhat officially -- that the NFL programming is indeed on the decline?

Maybe those early season double-digit percentage rating declines, which then moderated to a 9% pull back average for the entire season, actually meant something.

Health issues over players? Deflating footballs? Sinking fan moral? Maybe Super Bowl parties were switching to the Puppy Bowl on Hallmark Channel.

This year, 70% of all TV households that turned the set on watched the Super Bowl. Last year, the TV share number was 72% -- which was the highest household share since the 1982 game.

While analysts point to early NFL viewing issues -- the big presidential campaign and early-season absence of big name quarterbacks -- Tom Brady (suspension), Tony Romo (injury), and Peyton Manning (retirement) -- perhaps no premium TV content is immune to the travails of new media.

Perhaps there is brief Twitter content that will give me some explanation -- with limited context.  I’m open to new information. Maybe there are alternative media facts I have yet to explore.

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