Super Bowl TV audience reaches record 111.3 million

Mon Feb 6, 2012 3:22pm EST
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(Reuters) - A record 111.3 million viewers watched the New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots 21-17 in the Super Bowl on Sunday, just beating the 2011 TV audience for the game, according to ratings data on Monday.

The Nielsen company said Sunday's Super Bowl TV audience on the NBC network was the most-watched television program in U.S history.

Sunday's figure topped the 111.0 million who watched the Super Bowl a year ago. It was the 7th straight year of increases in the TV audience for the annual NFL championship.

Outside the action, NBC and the NFL apologized for a rude gesture flipped by British hip hop singer M.I.A during her halftime performance at the game, while Madonna got mixed reviews for her show.

The day-after reckoning focused on rapper M.I.A.'s rude act and drew comparisons to Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004.

At Sunday's show, M.I.A. joined Madonna on stage with U.S. hip-hop star Nicki Minaj and was performing the cheerleader themed "Give Me All Your Luvin'" from Madonna's latest album when M.I.A. extended her middle finger in a fleeting, obscene gesture while facing the camera.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement that NBC was to blame for a technical failure.

"There was a failure in NBC's delay system. The gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans," he said.

NBC sports spokesman Christopher McCloskey shifted more of the blame back to the NFL, saying, "The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show. Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers."   Continued...