If you watched Kansas City’s 25-22 overtime victory over San Francisco on Sunday night in a memorable Super Bowl LVIII from Las Vegas, well, you had plenty of company. The broadcast averaged 123.4 million viewers across all platforms, the most-watched show ever according to CBS Sports. The figure was up seven percent from last year’s game, which set the previous record of 115.1 million viewers. CBS’ 120.0 million viewers are the largest audience ever for a single network.
CBS Sports’ total viewership was comprised of CBS, Paramount+, Nickelodeon, Univision, CBS Sports and NFL digital properties, including NFL+.
The Kansas City Chiefs won their third Super Bowl in five years. Patrick Mahomes threw for 333 yards, two touchdowns and one interception en route to his third Super Bowl MVP award.
Why did you set a record?
It’s not a mystery you need Matlock to solve. Super Bowl LVIII is only the second Super Bowl to go into overtime, meaning the majority of the audience did not leave the game in the fourth quarter. There is always significant publicity for every Super Bowl matchup, but this one was fueled by two teams that have attracted viewership in recent years, especially the Chiefs.
There was also a big ratings boost coming. Look at previous weeks: Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens was the most-watched AFC Championship Game in history, averaging 55.473 million viewers; the Buffalo Bills against the Chiefs in the divisional round exceeded 50 million viewers; and Fox’s broadcast of the 49ers hosting the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship Game averaged 56.9 million viewers. Yes, these games were boosted by away viewership, but they surpassed last year’s mark, which is an apples-to-apples comparison.
This is anecdotal, but I think Las Vegas had a unique appeal as a first-time host and long-time epicenter of sports betting. Finally, Taylor Swift, given her level of fame, undoubtedly prompted some people who don’t try the Super Bowl to watch it. Last year’s Super Bowl drew an average audience of 115.1 million viewers across Fox, Fox Deportes and digital streaming, which surpassed the 114.4 million viewers who watched New England dramatically win Super Bowl XLIX on NBC in 2015 (The average audience has long been accustomed to determining the most watched game compared to the maximum audience.) — Richard Deitsch, senior writer
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(Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images)