Super Bowl LIII averages 98.2M viewers on CBS, lowest in decade

Super Bowl LIII drew the smallest television audience in more than a decade, according to figures released Monday evening by the Nielsen Co.

The New England Patriots' 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams averaged about 98.2 million viewers on CBS, the lowest since Super Bowl XLII averaged 97.4 million viewers after the 2007 season. The preliminary household rating of 41.1 was the lowest since Super Bowl XXXVII, played after the 2003 season.

This year's game was a defensive struggle after a record-setting season of offensive fireworks. The Patriots led 3-0 at halftime, and the Rams did not score until 2 minutes, 11 seconds remained in the third quarter. The teams' 16 combined points was the lowest total in Super Bowl history.

Super Bowl LIII drew a total audience of 100.7 million, CBS said in a statement. That figure includes television viewers on CBS and ESPN Deportes, along with digital and streaming services on CBS Interactive, NFL digital properties and Verizon mobile. ESPN Deportes averaged 473,000 viewers, according to Nielsen's data.

Viewership was especially low in New Orleans, where only 26.1 percent of the market tuned into the game, according to Nielsen's overnight numbers -- by far the lowest since New Orleans became a metered ratings market in 1998.

New Orleans typically ranks among the top markets in the country when it comes to the percentage of the metro population watching Super Bowls or NFL games in general. By comparison, Super Bowl LII drew a 53.0 rating in New Orleans. The lowest Super Bowl rating in New Orleans in recent history was a 48.4 two years ago -- when the rival Atlanta Falcons were in the game.

This year, however, New Orleans actually reveled in boycotting the Super Bowl across the city to make a statement against the officiating error that helped keep the Saints out of the game. Thousands of fans attended anti-Super Bowl events throughout the city, from the "Boycott Bowl" concert and "Blackout and Gold" second-line parade in the French Quarter to the "anti-LIE Bowl" block party uptown.

ESPN's Mike Triplett contributed to this report.