Two high-octane offenses and a dramatic finish for Super Bowl LVII gave the Fox telecast the ingredients for the game’s third-largest audience in history, according to preliminary audience figures.
Nielsen data shows the 38-35 victory by the Kansas City Chiefs over the Philadelphia Eagles was watched by an average of 113 million viewers. The telecast from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., was close behind the previous record set in 2015, when 114.4 million viewers watched the New England Patriots triumph over the Seattle Seahawks, 28-24 on NBC.
Fox had the second most-watched Super Bowl in 2017, when 113.6 million viewers saw the New England Patriots top the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. When the final number is tallied, Super Bowl LVII could surpass that number.
The audience figure includes 7 million people who watched on streaming devices, a figure added to Super Bowl totals in recent years. The total also includes 951,000 viewers who watched the Spanish-language telecast of the game on Fox Deportes.
The number for the game — always the most-watched program of any genre each year — solidifies the NFL’s status as the most durable and reliable TV property, attracting the kind of large audiences no longer attainable through scripted TV shows or awards programs.
While the match-up was promising with the top-seeded teams in each conference facing off — and historic with two Black quarterbacks starting the NFL’s championship game for the first time — the close score and constant action helped Super Bowl LVII approach the audience record.
The close competition on the field had an added dramatic subplot at the end of the first half when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes appeared to aggravate the high ankle sprain he has played with since the divisional round playoff game on Jan. 21.
Mahomes, named the game’s most valuable player, led the Chiefs in a drive down the field in the fourth quarter with the game tied 35-35. Harrison Butker kicked a field goal for the win with only a few seconds left on the clock.
The 73 total points scored is the highest since 2018, when the Eagles defeated the New England Patriots, 41-33.
Advertisers paid as much as $7 million to have a 30-second spot run in the game. The telecast included the usual array of celebrity-laden commercials produced for the game.
The audience favorite, according to USA Today’s annual ad meter ranking, was the spot for online pet food company the Farmer’s Dog that depicted a longtime bond between a dog and its owner, backed by a soulful track, “Forever” by singer Lee Fields.
The game was also likely helped by a widely praised halftime performance by pop and hip-hop star Rihanna, who set social media ablaze afterward with the confirmation that she is pregnant with her second child. The audience for the telecast spiked to 118.7 million viewers during her performance.