Super Bowl XLIV is the most-watched TV program in U.S. history.
Sunday’s big game set a new all-time ratings high, overthrowing the 27-year-old record held by the final episode of “M*A*S*H.”
The New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts showdown drew 106.5 million viewers, smashing Super Bowl records and edging out 1983’s “M*A*S*H” finale, which garnered 105.97 million viewers.
Viewership was up 8% from 2009’s Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals nail-biter, which was seen by a then-record 98.7 million viewers.
“With all the memorable story lines going into Super Bowl XLIV combined with the awesome power of the NFL, we are thrilled with this rating, and I am extremely proud of the way the entire CBS Television Network produced, sold and promoted the most-watched television show in history,” said Sean McManus, president, CBS News and Sports.
The premiere of CBS’ latest reality show “Undecover Boss” also scored for the network, drawing 38.6 million viewers — the biggest post-Bowl entertainment audience since CBS aired the second season premiere of “Survivor” after the Bowl in 2001.
Super Bowl XLIV is the first sports program to ever domestically crack 100 million viewers. Though there were fewer television sets when “M*A*S*H” aired, viewership is also much more segmented today. Most broadcast shows struggle to pull ratings that were commonplace just a few years ago.
“It is not surprising that the Super Bowl broke viewing records,” said Bill Carroll, vp director of programming at Katz TV Group. “When you have a once-a-year event, particularly suited to HD, with little to no competition on broadcast or cable, while in this economy mostly watched from home, with a blizzard on the East Coast, it would be more surprising if the game did not set a record.”
The Super Bowl also generated massive exposure for CBS’ roster of programming, which was promoted heavily during the telecast.