Super Bowl XLVII Might Be the Most Watched Ever

Dashiell Bennett

CBS says it preliminary overnight rating for Super Bowl XLVII was 48.1, the highest in the history of the game. While football has come to dominate prime-time television ratings in the last several years, a confluence of crazy events combined to make this one even more watchable than normal.

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The biggest crazy even, of course, was that blackout, which is just the kind of bizarre, once-in-a-lifetime thing that makes even people who couldn't give a rip about football change the channel to see what's up. CBS says the 35-minute shutdown of the game wasn't included in the rating, but we're pretty sure many people who switched over ended up sticking around for more. Those who did were treated to a thrilling second half that was the nearly the biggest comeback victory in Super Bowl history. Add in Beyoncé's halftime show (fueled by the inauguration lip-sync "scandal"); the head-coach sibling rivalry; Ray Lewis's final game; and the magic of being able to DVR Downton Abbey, and you've got yourself a pretty watchable TV show. (And "talkable." Looks like Twitter set a few records, as well.)

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The 48.1 is the "overnight" rating, which will be updated once more data comes in, but when all is said and done it could challenge Super Bowl XLIV (when the Saints beat the Colts) for the most total viewers of any broadcast in history, or Super Bowl III (Steelers vs. Cowboys) for the highest share of a football game. When nearly half of all the TVs in America are tuned to one channel, that's a good night for CBS.