Lowest-Scoring Super Bowl Generates Lowest Ratings in Decade

epa07341586 New England Patriots running back James White (Top) gets tackled by Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Cory Littleton (L) during the first half of Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 03 February 2019. EPA-EFE/LARRY W. SMITH

The lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history also didn’t score with viewers.

The game’s U.S. audience declined 5 percent to 98.2 million, the worst showing since 2008, according to Nielsen data. Broadcaster CBS Corp. put its total viewership figure at 100.7 million — including online viewers — though that too would represent the least in about a decade.

The Super Bowl remains the most-watched TV event, but it has now lost viewers for four straight years. In Sunday’s game, the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 — a score that might have kept more people from tuning in. The audience was the smallest since New England played the New York Giants in 2008, according to Nielsen.

Last year’s high-scoring Super Bowl, in which the Philadelphia Eagles toppled the Patriots, attracted 103.4 million viewers on Comcast Corp.’s NBC.

Sunday night’s ratings were understandably more robust in the home markets of the two teams. The so-called overnight rating in Los Angeles was 44.6, the highest since 1996, CBS said earlier. The second-largest U.S. TV market after New York, Los Angeles lacked a team from 1995 to 2016, when the Rams returned from St. Louis and the Chargers moved from San Diego. In Boston, the ninth-largest market, the rating of 57.4 was the best since 2015, the network said.

CBS had exclusive U.S. rights to air the game. But with fewer people watching traditional TV, it streamed the Super Bowl on more platforms than ever before. It was on CBS Sports’ website and mobile app, as well as the CBS All Access subscription service.

The Super Bowl audience hit a record in 2015, when 114.4 million TV viewers tuned in to see New England beat Seattle.

This year’s game came after a year in which the National Football League and its broadcasting partners saw a turnaround, with a 5 percent increase in viewership in the regular season. DM


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