Super Bowl XLIV: Most-Watched Telecast In History

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With an estimated 106.5 million viewers, Super Bowl XLIV has become the most-watched program in TV history, according to Nielsen.
CBS's coverage of the New Orleans Saints' 31-17 upset over the Indianapolis Colts yesterday topped the 106 million who tuned in CBS for the M*A*S*H series finale on Feb. 28, 1983. As such, Black Rock now has the top two telecasts in U.S. history.
Last year, NBC set the Super Bowl mark with some 98.7 million viewers for its coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers' last-second win over the Arizona Cardinals, meaning CBS's Feb. 7 telecast of Saints-Colts grew by nearly 8%.
All told, the NFL and Nielsen estimate that 153.4 million people saw some part of the championship game, up from 151.6 million viewers for Pittsburgh-Arizona.

Overnight ratings reached a 46.4 rating/68 share, a 10% jump from the 42.1/65 for Steelers-Cardinals. Yesterday's contest was the highest-rated Super Bowl in metered markets since Phil Simms, who provided the analysis alongside Jim Nantz's play-by-play call on Super Bowl XLIV, pushed the New York Giants over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. That CBS telecast, on Jan. 24, 1987, notched a 47.8/68 share
Tune in for the Big Game peaked between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. at 50.6/7 -- that's when Tracey Porter's 74-yard interception return for touchdown against Peyton Manning clinched the first title in the Saints' 43-year history.

As expected, New Orleans was the top-rated market (56.3/82), followed by Washington, D.C. (56.0/73), where two feet of snow kept most people home. Nashville ranked third (54.4/73), followed by Indianapolis (54.2/ 80).

Top 10 Rated in the Metered Markets

1. New Orleans 56.3/82

2. Washington, D.C. 56.0/73 

3.Nashville, 54.4/73

4. Indianapolis 54.2/80

5. Columbus, Ohio 54.0/74

6. Dayton, Ohio 53.7/73

7. Norfolk, Va. 53.1/72

8. Knoxville, Tenn. 52.0/65

9. West Palm Bch, Fla. 51.8/69

T9. Pittsburgh 51.8/67

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