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Super Bowl-boosted NBC rises to top of weekly ratings

February 3, 2009 |  1:52 pm

Sunday's Super Bowl on NBC was the No. 2 telecast of all time, so it's no surprise that the network emerged the champion in the weekly TV ratings.

The NFL championship, which ended with the Pittsburgh Steelers' last-minute victory over the Arizona Cardinals, drew an average of 98.7 million total viewers, according to figures published Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research. That eclipsed last year's Super Bowl record on Fox, with 97.5 million, and ranks behind only the 1983 finale of "MASH" (106 million) on TV's all-time most-watched list.

The game also cast a glow over the rest of NBC's lineup that night. The post-game show drew 57.4 million viewers, followed by a record crowd for the sitcom "The Office" (22.9 million). In adults aged 18 to 49, "The Office" beat Fox's Wednesday edition of the smash "American Idol" (11 rating versus 10.2).

"Idol" performed strongly in the normal Tuesday and Wednesday slots plus a Thursday special that drew 24.6 million.

Given the intense competition all week, CBS' schedule held up well, with four shows among the 10 most-watched, led by "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (20.2 million).    

NBC dominated the week overall (21.6 million, its best weekly average since the Beijing Olympics), followed by Fox (11.3 million), CBS (9.5 million) and ABC (5.8 million). In season-to-date averages, the Super Bowl helped NBC pull to a 3.1 rating in 18 to 49, or within one-tenth of a rating point of Fox and CBS, which are currently tied.

--Scott Collins 

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