NEW YORK -- Peyton Manning had a lot of witnesses to his
soggy super win, with the estimated 93.2 million viewers
representing the second most-watched Super Bowl broadcast ever.
Only the 1996 Super Bowl between Dallas and Pittsburgh, which
had 94.1 million viewers, had a bigger audience, according to
Nielsen Media Research on Monday. Behind that 1996 game and the
M-A-S-H series finale, Sunday's game was the third most-watched
program in television history.
The presence of one of the game's most popular players in
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and a major-market
team from Chicago undoubtedly juiced the ratings.
"The story line was about as good as you could have hoped
for," said CBS Sports President Sean McManus. The game was shown
on CBS, a division of CBS Corp.
It was the highest-rated Super Bowl game since St.
Louis-Tennessee in 2000. The ratings were lower this year than in
2000, but, because there are more homes with television sets than
seven years ago, there were more people watching. Last year's Super
Bowl between Pittsburgh and Seattle drew 90.7 million viewers.
CBS was also lucky, in a sense, that the Colts' 29-17 victory
over the Bears was closer on the scoreboard than it appeared on the
screen. Although Indianapolis was dominating the game, Chicago was
close enough until the end to have a chance to win, which kept
CBS wasn't so lucky that the game was played in a driving
"It was very difficult," McManus said. "We lost a number of
cameras during the telecast."
A camera suspended over the field on cables had to come down,
and one sideline camera was knocked out of commission because it
overheated when covered in canvas, he said. Camera operators were
constantly wiping raindrops from lenses.
Despite the huge audience, the Super Bowl didn't provide much of
a jolt to the CBS drama "Criminal Minds," which was given the
choice time slot following the game. "Criminal Minds" was seen by
26.2 million viewers. While that's the biggest audience the
second-year show has ever delivered, it dwarfs the 38.1 million
people who saw "Grey's Anatomy" after ABC's telecast of the game
According to another measuring service, the most-watched moment
of the CBS broadcast wasn't Peyton Manning's lone touchdown pass,
the interception and touchdown run by Kelvin Hayden or even
Prince's electrifying halftime show. It was the Bud Light ad
featuring Carlos Mencia and a language class, according to Tivo.
The digital recorder company's measurement includes not only
people who watched the commercial live, but those who froze the set
and went back and watched the commercial, said Todd Juenger, vice
president and general manager for audience research.
More viewers with digital recorders tend to replay the Super
Bowl commercials than game action perhaps because broadcasters
offer plenty of replays of game action on their own, he said.
The most popular minute of the actual game, representing most
Tivo replays, was after a personal foul was committed following an
Indianapolis kickoff in the third quarter, he said.