UPDATE, 11:49 AM: The Super Bowl and the NFL had a lot to feast on yesterday with its 50th anniversary and a third win for the Denver Broncos but record viewership wasn’t on the menu. With the final numbers in, last night’s Broncos 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers on CBS scored an audience of 111.9 million. Down from the past 2-years, Sunday’s game dropped 2.3% from the previous record holder of last year’s NBC broadcast Super Bowl. Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 now stands as the third most watched show in U.S. TV history.
The 6:39 – 10:22 PM ET game peaked to 115.5 million viewers in the 8:30 – 9 PM slot.
Among adults 18-49, the Broncos third set of rings and possibly Peyton Manning’s last game ever, drew a 46.6 rating. That’s a dip of 1.9% from last year’s result of 47.5 when the New England Patriots grinded out a win over then reigning champs the Seattle Seahawks. The champion of all Super Bowl demo champs remains the 49.1/73 rating that that the January 24, 1982 game between the victorious San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals pulled in for CBS. Before last year, the best result among the 18-49s of the 21st century was the 47.1/71 that the February 5, 2012 match-up between the winning NY Giants and the Patriots had.
As the first late-night show to get the coveted post-Super Bowl slot, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert got a 7.9 rating in the demo last night and 21.12 million viewers. That’s the best the Late Show has ever done in the demo and total viewership since its David Letterman hosted debut on August 23, 1993. Running from 12:37 – 1:33 AM last night that other CBS late night show, The Late Late Show with James Corden had a 1.7 in the demo and 4.97 million viewers – the biggest audience the show has even since it started in 1995. Corden was also up 17% in viewers and even among the 18-49s from Craig Ferguson’s stint in the post-post Super Bowl slot for CBS on February 3, 2013.
While not an apples to apples comparison, the 10:54 PM – 12:02 AM ET Colbert’s Late Show was down 9% and 20% respectively from the 8.7 rating and 26.5 million total viewers that drama The Blacklist snared last year in NBC’s post-game slot. Colbert was up a tiny 1.3% from what Elementary got in the post-Super Bowl slot that last time CBS had the game back in 2013.
The last time an unscripted show played in the Super Bowl lead-out slot was back in 2012 with The Voice coming on at 10:15 PM ET. The well placed Season 2 debut of the Mark Burnett EP’d competition show hit a high note of a 16.3 rating and overall viewership of 37.6. That’s the best any post-Super Bowl show had done in the demo since 2006’s Grey’s Anatomy on ABC. The best 21st century post-Super Bowl show viewership was the 38.7 million who watched Undercover Boss on CBS in 2010. The top of the top post-Super Bowl shows was the episode of Friends that ran after the big game on January 28, 1996 – the comedy brought in 53 million viewers.
Throwing a bit of spanner into the total viewership evaluation works this year is that CBS Sports and the NFL allowed SB50 to be streamed for free online on the likes of Apple TV, Roku and Google Chromecast– a potential large destination for millennials. The live stream had 3.96 million unique viewers among a variety of platforms and devices. Additionally, and perhaps of note to Fox for next year’s Super Bowl, even though the often much discussed ads were going for $5 million and more for a 30-second on-air spot, CBS also let all of them be live streamed.
PREVIOUS, 6:22 AM: It might or might not have been Peyton Manning’s last game, but either way Super Bowl 50 will be one for the books for the Denver Broncos QB, the NFL and CBS. With a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers last night, the Broncos scored their third Super Bowl win, Manning snagged his second ring, and CBS has the second-highest-rated big game ever — at least in the overnights.
Sunday’s gridiron extravaganza pulled in a 49.0/73 in metered-market ratings for the network and the league. That’s down just 1.4% from the 49.7/72 that last year’s Super Bowl XLIX brought in for NBC. As steady as this year was, that down-to-the-last-minute win by the New England Patriots over the Seattle Seahawks remains the highest-rated Super Bowl in metered-market history. Last night’s 6:45-10:15 PM ET game from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, topped the previous MM record holder of the CBS power outage-plagued broadcast 2013 battle between the victorious Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers by 1.9% — which must make the more than $5 million CBS was charging this year for a 30-second ad spot seem like a very good deal. For those of you who love your stats, last night’s game peaked with 51.0/73 from 10-10:15 PM ET.
With 114.5 million viewers, last year’s Super Bowl ended up being the most watched show in U.S. TV history. The Patriots-Seahawks’ 47.5/71 rating among adults 18-49 was up from 2% in the key demo from Super Bowl XLVIII to finish as the fourth-highest-rated Super Bowl of all time.
As of right now, the top Super Bowl 18-49 result of all time is the 49.1 from the CBS-broadcast January 24, 1982, game between the winning 49ers and the Cincinnati Bengals. The second-best 18-49 currently is the 48.3 rating of Super Bowl XVII on January 30, 1983, when the Washington Redskins beat the Miami Dolphins on NBC. The 2011 game between the winning NY Giants and the Patriots on NBC is in third place with 47.1/71. By the way, Super Bowl LI is on Fox next year from NRG Stadium in Houston.
We’ll update with more ratings of the game, halftime show and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert post-game show later in the day. However, in the meantime, with today’s numbers included, here’s a look at the Top 5 metered market Super Bowl results ever:
1) 2015: 49.7 – Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks (NBC)
2) 2016: 49.0 – Super Bowl 50: Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers (CBS)
3) 2013: 48.1 – Super Bowl XLVII: Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers (CBS)
4) 2011: 47.9 – Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (FOX)
5) 1987: 47.9 – Super Bowl XXI: NY Giants vs. Denver Broncos (CBS)