Giants' staggering win over Patriots watched by record 97.5 million
NEW YORK -- The 97.5 million viewers who saw the New York Giants' last-minute win over the New England Patriots made it the most-watched Super Bowl ever and second biggest event in American television history.
Under Watchful Eyes
The AC Nielsen numbers are in, and in terms of viewership, Giants-Patriots was the M*A*S*H finale of Super Bowls. The best of the most-watched matchups:
Only the "MASH" series finale in 1983, with 106 million viewers, was seen by more people, Nielsen Media Research said Monday. Sunday's game eclipsed the previous Super Bowl record of 94.08 million, set when Dallas defeated Pittsburgh in 1996.
This year's game had almost all the ingredients Fox could have hoped for: a tight contest with a thrilling finish involving a team that was attempting to make history as the NFL's first unbeaten team since 1972.
But the Giants ended New England's bid for perfection, 17-14. Throughout the game, the teams were never separated by more than a touchdown.
"You might like your equation going in, but you still need some breaks going your way," said Ed Goren, Fox sports president. The closeness of the game probably added a couple million viewers to the telecast's average; the audience peaked at 105.7 million viewers between 9:30 and 10 p.m. EST -- during the fourth quarter.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning won bragging rights over his brother: Last year's win by Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts was seen by 93.2 million people, now the third most popular Super Bowl. Manning was set to appear on David Letterman's "Late Show" on Monday, but travel delays in Arizona pushed his appearance back to Wednesday.
An eye-popping 81 percent of all TV sets on in the Boston area Sunday were tuned in to the game. In New York, the audience share was 67 percent.
There were signs even before game time that Fox could be headed for a record. The opportunity for a team to make history with football's first 19-0 record was a powerful draw. The Giants and Patriots also had a tight contest in late December that drew strong ratings.
The Giants' underdog run had also captivated the nation's largest media market, making up for the only potential weakness in the event as a drawing card: the lack of geographical diversity in the competing teams.
There were past Super Bowls with higher ratings, topped by the 1982 game between San Francisco and Cincinnati (49.1 rating, 73 share). That indicates a larger percentage of homes with televisions were watching the game. But since the American population has increased, along with the number of people with TVs, the actual number of people watching this year was higher.
The Giants-Patriots game's actual rating (43.2 rating, 65 share) was the highest for any Super Bowl since 2000. That means 43 percent of the nation's households with TV were tuned in to the game, and 65 percent of the TV sets that were turned on were watching football.
The 97.5 million figure represents the game's average viewership during any given minute. Nielsen said that a total of 148.3 million watched at least some part of the game.
Goren said ratings were stronger than usual for Fox's pregame show, crediting the decision to add a show biz element with Ryan Seacrest to a program often usually only hardcore football fans could love.
Fox, a division of News Corp., charged $2.7 million for 30 seconds of advertising time on the game, and that may have been a bargain.
This year's Super Bowl was one of the few -- if only -- television events where more people watched the commercials than the program itself, according to digital video recorder makers TiVo Inc.
By measuring live viewership, and the number of people who rewound their DVRs, the most-seen Super Bowl commercial was E-Trade's stock-talking baby, who ended a financial discussion by spitting up, TiVo said.
"I didn't see that punch line coming at all," said Todd Juenger, Tivo's research chief.
Pepsi's Justin Timberlake commercial was second, proving fans either like watching Timberlake, or like watching him sail into a mailbox post crotch-first. The Doritos "Mouse Trap" commercial, from an idea submitted by a viewer, was third.
In what may be a sign of the times, TiVo's top 10 commercials featured only one beer ad and four for either soft drinks or flavored water.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Union: NFL, Ravens not helping in Rice probe
- Colts WR Wayne won't play vs. Steelers
- Harvin wants to reach 'next level' with Jets
- Saints to be without RBs Thomas, Robinson
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
SUPER BOWL XLII
Game coverage• Belichick ready to move on from Super Bowl loss
• Nevada sports books lose record $2.6M
• View to a thrill: Record 97.5 million watch XLII
• Giants' win shatters viewership records
• Clayton: Can the Giants repeat?
• Simmons: Free fallin'
• Giants spoil Pats' perfect season
• Wojciechowski: Blame Pats for this debacle
• Wickersham: Brady dazed and confused
• Clayton: Eli lets instincts take over
• Clayton: N.Y. 'misfits' harass Brady
• Sando: Was Brady rattled?
• Mosley: Belichick left a second early
• Chadiha: Ten things we learned
• Garber: Tyree's catch one for the ages
• Zoom galleries 1 | 2 | Great SB upsets
• SportsNation: Best Super Bowl?
• SportsNation: Biggest SB upset?
• SportsNation: Your favorite commercials?
Commentary/Features• Clayton: Top five contenders for the next SB
• '72 Fins breathe sigh of relief after Giants win
• Chadiha: Giants enjoy underdog role
• Sando: Coughlin, Giants made it work
• Super Bowl picks: Our experts weigh in
• Merrill: Nine previously perfect Patriots
• Merrill: Harrison deals with his rep just fine
• Clayton: Giants' O-line worthy of accolades
• Pasquarelli: Tip Sheet
• Pasquarelli: Tip Sheet notes
• Wojciechowski: 15 reasons Patriots will win
• E-ticket: Patriots' man of mystery
• Sunday Countdown
• Clayton's First and Goal
• Chadiha: Giants miss Shockey
• Garber: Injured war vet inspires Giants
• Pasquarelli: The Pats' crucial cameos
• Garber: In Brady's world, insecurity remains
• Merrill: Hixon's traumatizing season
• Football Outsiders: SB numbers crunching
• Pasquarelli: Patriots' silent sentinel
• Wojciechowski: Unflappable Eli
• Sando: Brady rising among all-time QBs
• Chadiha: Giants' rookies playing prominent role
• Fleming: Cardinals/Pottsville Curse
• Clayton: Youth serving Giants well
• Chadiha: Ranking the best QBs by decade
• Klancnik: Top QBs by jersey number
• Hashmarks: Media day coverage | Gallery
• Pasquarelli: Pats' old-school LBs
• Helyar: Marketing windfall for Eli Manning
• Garber: Seau's ring quest
• Pasquarelli: Bruschi's full-circle journey
• Animated plays
• From the research room
• Chadiha: Pierce just wants to win
• Wojciechowski: Explaining Bill Belichick
• Helyar: Recession? Not at Super Bowl!
• Giants' Snee doesn't stray from roots
• Sando: Seymour in eye of storm
• Merrill: Welker scales new heights for Pats
• Pasquarelli: Brady is ready to play
• Garber: The preservation of Plaxico
• Pasquarelli: Hill's spirit lives on
• Clayton: Giants' juggling act at CB works
• Wickersham: Giant ideas
• Klosterman: All too perfect
• Crown Jewels: A look at Super Bowl rings
• FB Outsiders: Giants one of worst SB teams
• Helyar: Patriots will drive TV ratings
• Clayton: First and goal
• Chadiha: Giants' glory road
• Mosley: Brady's ankle saves the week
• Woj: Preseason predictions revisited
• Merrill: David Woodley's dark spotlight
• Former SB QBs: Plunkett | Rypien | Ferragamo
• More: Morton | Humphries | Hostetler | Eason
• Starting matchups of Super Bowl QBs
• Ranking the QB performances: 1-40 | 41-82
• Jaworski: Six Super Bowl surprises
• Joyner: Brady's bad decisions
• Clayton: Eli's managing fine
• Chadiha: Focused Giants
• AccuScore simulation: Pats to prevail
• Chadiha: First Look at the Super Bowl
• Playoff schedule
• Vermeil doubts spying made difference for Pats
• Fish: Ex-Ram Warner suspicious of Pats in SB XXXVI
• Report: Pats taped Rams' SB walk-through
• Specter to Goodell: Let's talk
• Fish: Possible 'Spygate' witness surfaces
• Easterbrook: NFL can blame itself for scandal's timing
• Munson: Congressional interest serious
• Pasquarelli: Specter should stick with politics
• Clayton: Spy saga won't distract Patriots
• Hashmarks at Goodell's news conference
• Specter to Goodell (.pdf)
• Goodell to Specter (.pdf)
Page 2• Gallo: Five stages of heartbreak for Pats' fans
• Hill: Best Super Bowl parties
• Hill: Teflon Tom Brady
• Popculture roundtable on the Super Bowl
• Hill: Raiders quit on Moss
• Flem File at the Super Bowl
• Fleming: Defining greatness
• Best teams never to win a title
• TMQ: Title-game analysis
• Why Boston teams are so good
• Gallo: Countdown to kickoff
• More from Page 2
News• Brady ankle not on injury report
• Brady on Plax prediction: Only 17 points for Pats?
• Carey named first black Super Bowl referee
• Brady practices in Pats' first Super Bowl session
• Ross gets sick as unified Giants face flu
• NFL not worried about spying
• Security high for Super Bowl
• Williams to be honored during Super Bowl
• Bootless Brady departs for Arizona
• Tickets reselling for average of $4,300
• Burress: Giants' receivers are better
Scouts Inc.• Roundtable: Seven scouts weigh in
• Super Bowl XLII X Factors
• Coaching comparison: Styles vary, results same
• Defensive line breakdowns
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 5)
• Matchups to watch in Super Bowl XLII
• Running-game breakdown
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 4)
• QB tale of the the tape
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 3)
• Ranking NFL QBs 1-64
• Take II on Super Bowl XLII
• Giants' DBs overmatched or underrated?
• Horton: Notes from film room (Day 2)
• Horton: 10 things to watch in SB XLII
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 1)
• A tale of two underrated O-lines
• Take I on Super Bowl XLII
• Players ranked Nos. 1-106
SportsNation• Vote: Which team will win?
• Vote: Who wins the head-to-head matchups?
• Vote: Which team are you rooting for?
• Conversation: Talk Super Bowl XLII
• Map: Which states are picking the Giants?
• Quiz: 42 Super Bowl history questions
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Hello from Arizona!
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Live from Media Day
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Live with oddsmaker
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Live with Matt Hasselbeck
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Live with Gregg Easterbrook
• Rank: Super Bowl's best individual performances
• Rank: Super Bowl coaches
• Rank: Super Bowl careers
• Rank: Super Bowl teams
• Rank: Super Bowl games
• Rank: Greatest all-time quarterbacks
• Vote: Potential for QB greatness?
• Quiz: Greatest quarterbacks
• ABCNews: Super Bowl or Super Tuesday?
• Chat Rewind: When did undefeated talk start?
• Vote: Can we proposition you?
• Pulse: What is SportsNation saying about XLII?