Steelers, Cardinals draw 95 million TV viewers

Mon Feb 2, 2009 5:53pm EST
 
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl victory over the Arizona Cardinals drew more than 95 million U.S. television viewers on Sunday, down slightly from 2008's big game but still the second-most watched National Football League championship ever.

Nearly half of all American homes with televisions were tuned into the last half hour of the nail-biting contest, in which the Steelers prevailed over the Cardinals, 27-23, in the final minutes of play, Nielsen Media Research reported on Monday.

The four-hour broadcast, airing on NBC, averaged 95.4 million U.S. viewers, second only to the record 97.5 million -- 2 percent more -- who saw the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots in last year's Super Bowl, according to final Nielsen figures.

As usual, the NFL championship ranks as the most watched single telecast of the year by far, demonstrating why advertisers this year paid up to $3 million for a 30-second commercial spot during the game.

"The Super Bowl, once again, proved its ability to captivate America," Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics, said in a statement.

By comparison, some 37.8 million Americans watched a full day of TV coverage of President Barack Obama's inauguration, carried on numerous networks, on January 20. The 1983 series finale of the sitcom classic "M*A*S*H" holds the record as the most-watched U.S. TV broadcast of all time, with 106 million viewers.

Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast came with a surprising glitch for some viewers in Tucson, Arizona, when a 30-second clip from a porn film interrupted local cable carriage of the final stages of the game.

Cable provider Comcast said the clip -- reportedly showing a woman unzipping a man's pants, followed by a graphic sex act -- temporarily was broadcast to some suburban customers watching the Super Bowl on a low-definition service.   Continued...