Sunday’s Super Bowl was the most-watched telecast in history with a US audience of 123.4 million viewers, according to broadcaster CBS, marking a 7% increase from the previous high of 115.1 million who tuned in to the 2023 NFL championship game.
The number included 120 million viewers on the CBS network and Paramount+, the streaming service of parent Paramount Global. The game was also carried on its Nickelodeon kids channel as well as other outlets, which contributed to the overall total.
The Kansas City Chiefs won their second-straight Super Bowl title, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime. The game started slowly, with the 49ers leading 10-3 at the end of the first half. The Chiefs tied the score with a field goal in the fourth quarter, sending the game into overtime, and then captured a sudden-death win with a touchdown. Only one other Super Bowl, in 2017, was decided in overtime, out of 58 contests.
The game is routinely the most-watched TV event of the year in the US, delivering an audience and advertising windfall to the host network. It was the most-streamed Super Bowl ever, CBS said.
The excitement this year was bolstered by the closely followed relationship between Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce and pop star Taylor Swift. The broadcast included many shots of Swift watching the action from a suite in the stadium and the couple hugged and kissed at the end of the game.
“She is without a doubt incremental to audience on the NFL,” Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish said in an interview on 9 February with Bloomberg. “She’s a great addition, widening the net of the NFL viewer even further.”
Commercials during the game went for about $7-million for each 30-second spot. As the networks always do, CBS bookended its actual game coverage with extensive pregame and postgame programming, making the broadcast a full-day event for many viewers.
Live sports, and the NFL in particular, have remained the one reliable tool for marketers to reach large numbers of viewers on TV. Fox Corp. collected $500-million in advertising from last year’s broadcast.
Some Paramount+ users experienced issues with the broadcast, particularly at the start of the game, according to social media posts and the website Downdetector.com, which tracks complaints. Paramount said only a “very small number of subscribers experienced an error due to a technical issue with one of our partners, which was quickly rectified”.
X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, also saw growth with the number of posts about the game rising 26% to 12.94 million, according to the company.
The broadcast came at an opportune moment for Paramount. Its controlling shareholders, the Redstone family, are fielding offers for the company, whose assets include CBS, Paramount Pictures and a stable of cable TV channels.