Nielsen recount: Super Bowl LVII adds 2 million viewers to become most-watched show ever

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes during Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes during Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles.
(Godofredo A. Vasquez / Associated Press)

In a ratings equivalent of a play review, Nielsen has declared the Fox telecast of Super Bowl LVII scored an average of 115.1 million viewers, making it the most watched TV program of all time.

Fox Sports said Tuesday that Nielsen restated the total average viewership number for the Feb. 12 game after a review by the ratings company found irregularities in the encoding used to measure the audience. There were also problems with the data for out-of-home viewing.

After a second look, Nielsen added 2 million viewers to the Super Bowl LVII total that was given the day after the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 38-35. The restated total puts it over the previous record of 114.4 million viewers for the New England Patriots’ triumph over the Seattle Seahawks on NBC in 2015.


A Nielsen representative confirmed the revision, which came after the NFL threw a challenge flag and asked Nielsen to examine the data. The league noticed an abnormally high Super Bowl Sunday audience for the NFL Network, which was apparently getting credit for some of Fox’s viewers.

“We appreciate the support and collaboration from our partners at Fox and the NFL to correct previously unknown errors to ultimately provide a more accurate measure for this year’s total audience for the game,” a Nielsen representative said in a statement.

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Advertisers paid an average of nearly $7 million for a 30-second spot during the game. The additional viewers found by Nielsen will bring no financial gain to Fox, although they do give the network bragging rights.

“Fox Sports is proud to have presented the most-watched Super Bowl and most-watched TV show of all time,” the network said in a statement. “We appreciate Nielsen’s commitment to producing the most accurate viewership figure possible.”

Fox Sports executives believed the game had the potential to be the biggest ever because it featured the high-octane offenses of the Chiefs and the Eagles, both the top-seeded teams in their respective conferences.

Fox had also seen higher numbers for its playoff games and set a record on Thanksgiving for the most-watched regular season contest when 41 million viewers tuned in to watch the Dallas Cowboys stop the New York Giants.


“We have a lot of reasons to be optimistic,” Mike Mulvihill, executive vice president and head of strategy and analytics for Fox Sports, told The Times in an interview ahead of the game. “If we have an increase over last year, we have a great shot at setting the record.”

As it belatedly turns out, Mulvihill was right.