NEW YORK -- The New England Patriots' Super Bowl victory
over the Philadelphia Eagles was seen by an estimated 86.1 million
people, down 4 percent from last year's game, Nielsen Media
Research said Monday.
The Patriots' win over the Carolina Panthers in 2004 attracted
89.8 million, Nielsen said.
Maybe winning is becoming old hat for the Patriots; it was, by a
slim margin, the least-watched of the team's three Super Bowl
victories in the past four years.
The national rating of 41.1 was down from last year's 41.3 on
Fox isn't likely to complain. The Super Bowl is routinely the
most-watched television event of the year. Over the past 20 years,
the game's viewership has ranged from 73.9 million (1990, San
Francisco vs. Denver) to 94.1 million (1996, Dallas vs.
A competitive game helped keep fans interested. The two teams
were tied entering the fourth quarter and the Patriots won 24-21;
Fox said viewership peaked after 10 p.m. EST Sunday, in the game's
A Super Bowl-themed episode of "The Simpsons" drew 23.1
million viewers immediately after the game, the venerable cartoon's
biggest audience in 11 years. An estimated 15.1 million people
stayed up to watch the preview of another animated series,
"American Dad," right after that.
The post-Super Bowl time slot is always a highly sought
Numbers for "The Simpsons" were about average for that period,
falling behind the high of NBC's "Friends" in 1996 (52.9 million)
and above the low of ABC's "Alias" in 2003 (17.4 million).
The Super Bowl's host city -- Jacksonville, Fla. -- drew the
highest rating of any major city, trailed by Philadelphia, Nielsen
said. Boston was third.