If you watched Kansas City’s 25-22 overtime victory over San Francisco on Sunday night in a memorable Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, well, you had plenty of company. The telecast averaged 123.4 million viewers across all platforms, the most-watched program ever according to CBS Sports. That figure is up seven percent from last year’s game, which set the previous record of 115.1 million viewers. CBS’s 120.0 million viewers are the largest audience in history for a single network.
CBS Sports total viewership was comprised of CBS digital properties, Paramount+, Nickelodeon, Univision, CBS Sports and NFL, including NFL+.
The Kansas City Chiefs won their third Super Bowl in five years. Patrick Mahomes threw for 333 yards, two touchdowns and an interception en route to his third Super Bowl MVP award.
Why did he set a record?
This is not a mystery that you have to solve by Matlock. Super Bowl LVIII is only the second Super Bowl to reach overtime, meaning the majority of the audience did not give up on the game in the fourth quarter. There’s always heavy advertising for every Super Bowl game, but this one was boosted by two teams that have attracted viewership in recent years, particularly the Chiefs.
There was also strong audience momentum. Look at previous weeks: The Baltimore Ravens Chiefs were the most-watched AFC Championship Game of all time, averaging 55.473 million viewers; the Buffalo Bills vs. Chiefs in the divisional round topped 50 million viewers; and Fox’s broadcast of the 49ers hosting the Detroit Lions in the NFC championship game averaged 56.9 million viewers. Yes, these games were boosted by out-of-home viewership, but they surpassed last year’s mark, which is an apples-to-apples comparison.
It’s anecdotal, but I think Las Vegas had a unique appeal as an early host and longtime epicenter of sports gambling. Finally, Taylor Swift – given her level of fame – has undoubtedly enticed some people who don’t enjoy the Super Bowl to watch it. Last year’s Super Bowl drew an average audience of 115.1 million viewers across Fox, Fox Deportes and digital streaming, surpassing the 114.4 million viewers who saw New England dramatically win the Super Bowl XLIX on NBC in 2015. (Average viewership has long been used to determining the most-watched game as opposed to peak viewership.) — Richard Deitsch, senior editor
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(Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images)