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NEW YORK (AP) — For the second year in a row, the Super Bowl has set a record for American television viewing.
The Nielsen Co. said Monday that an estimated 111 million people watched the Green Bay Packers outlast the Pittsburgh Steelers in professional football’s ultimate game. That tops the 106.5 million who watched the 2010 game between New Orleans and Indianapolis.
“M-A-S-H” had held the title of the most-watched TV show in the United States for 27 years.
Fox had the advantage of a game between two of the National Football League’s iconic franchises and, even though it looked like it could be a rout when the Packers took a 21-3 lead.
In fact, the most-watched single play of the game was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s final incomplete pass to Mike Wallace with about a minute to go, according to measurements by TiVo Inc., the digital video recorder maker. When that pass hit the ground, it clinched the game for Green Bay.
The five most-watched events in U.S. TV history are now “M-A-S-H” (seen by just under 106 million people on Feb. 28, 1983) and the last four Super Bowls, Nielsen said.
Television ratings in general have been super for the NFL this year, with viewership up 13 percent over last year, Nielsen said. Games on CBS, Fox and NBC averaged 20 million viewers, more than twice what networks get for their prime-time programming.
“Super Bowl XLV caps what is arguably the most successful season that any sports league has ever had,” said Pat McDonough, senior vice president at the Nielsen Co.