Sunday’s Super Bowl drew 123.4 million viewers across CBS and Paramount+, according to preliminary numbers. That’s the most for any broadcast since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969, and the most-watched non-news telecast of all time.
The 123.4 million viewers figure is just the average viewers who were tuned into the broadcast at any moment of it. Nielsen says the total number of viewers who watched any part of Super Bowl LVIII was 202.4 million, up from 2023’s 184 million.
The Moon Landing is believed to have averaged 150 million viewers, a feat capable in part due to the fact that there were only three broadcast networks in the U.S. at the time. By the time of 9/11, fragmentation across broadcast and cable TV had resulted in lower viewers for any one individual channel. The events of January 6, 2021 did result in the single highest viewership on any day in CNN’s history, however.
The game was a good one — especially late — and that is the single most-important factor for a major sporting event to drive TV ratings. And yes, Taylor Swift certainly helped too.
The Kansas City Chiefs came from behind to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in overtime, 25-22. The game, which had been 10-3 in favor of the Niners at halftime, ended on a walk-off touchdown toss from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to wide receiver Mecole Hardman. Mahomes, who finished with 333 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Had San Francisco’s overtime field goal been enough to win, the MVP likely would have come down to running back Christian McCaffrey or wide receiver Jauan Jennings.
R&B singer Usher was the halftime show. He was joined by Alicia Keys, Lil Jon, Ludacris, H.E.R., and Jermaine Dupri. Reba McIntyre sang the national anthem on Sunday; Andra Day sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Super Bowl LVIII took place in Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Raiders. In the spirit of Sin City’s main tourist trap, the underdog Chiefs (+2.5) won outright (and thus, on the money line) and the 47 points in total paid out on the Under.
The Super Bowl is, by many multiples, the most-watched TV show of the year, every year. After Nielsen’s final final tally was in, the 2023 Super Bowl averaged a whopping 115.096 million viewers, the biggest ever. (Earlier-available data had Super Bowl LVII at 113.055 million viewers.) The Chiefs won that one in a high-scoring barnburner vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 2014-2017 Super Bowls round out the rest of the Top 5 Super Bowls of all time in terms of viewership.