The Super Bowl broadcast by NBC on Sunday was watched by 111.3 million people, according to Nielsen estimates, making it the most-watched program in television history for the third year in a row.
Approximately 47.8 percent of U.S. homes tuned in for the New York Giants come-from-behind 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots, off a tenth of a percentage point from last year's Super Bowl, which earned a 47.9 for Fox and drew a then-record 111 million viewers.
Sunday's Super Bowl peaked between 9:30 p.m. and 9:58 p.m. ET, according to Nielsen, when 117.7 million viewers watched Giants quarterback Eli Manning engineer a game-winning fourth-quarter drive--and Patriots QB Tom Brady fail to lead one of his own.
The halftime show, featuring an age-defying performance from Madonna, drew 114 million viewers--the most-watched Super Bowl halftime performance in history.
Sunday's game also set a record in Boston, which registered the best overnight rating for an NFL game with 56.7 percent of homes in the metro market tuned in.
The game also set a Twitter record for sporting events, with a barrage of 12,233 tweets per second registered during the final minutes, according to Twitter. It was the most tweets per second for any English-language event in Twitter history, and nearly triple the frequency of last year's game, which saw a then-record 4,064.
Before Sunday, the tweets-per-second record for a sporting event occurred on Jan. 8, when Tim Tebow's overtime touchdown pass for the Denver Broncos resulted in 9,420 tweets per second. (The overall record was set in December, when "Castle in the Sky," a Japanese anime film, sparked more than 25,000 tweets per second when it aired there.)
Madonna's performance was also ripe for Twitter commentary, peaking with 10,245 tweets per second flying during halftime. (Twitter said that flurry was a record for live entertainment.)
Ratings for the eighth annual Puppy Bowl, Animal Planet's furry fit of Super Bowl counterprogramming, are due later Monday.
Most-watched programs in U.S. television history
1. Super Bowl XLVI, NBC | 111.3 million
2. Super Bowl XLV, Fox | 111.0 million
3. Super Bowl XLIV, CBS | 106.5 million
4. "M.A.S.H." Finale, CBS | 106.0 million
5. Super Bowl XLIII, NBC | 98.7 million
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