The Super Bowl 2024 shattered ratings records on Sunday night, with an audience of 123.4 million tuning in to watch the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in overtime. Preliminary figures from Nielsen and CBS revealed that this figure easily surpassed last year’s record high of 115.1 million viewers. Final Nielsen ratings for the Super Bowl are yet to be issued, but the event is already being hailed as a major success.
The total viewership included those who watched on CBS, the Paramount+ streaming app, the Spanish-language channel Univision, N.F.L. digital channels, or Nickelodeon, which aired a child-friendly telecast. The vast majority, however, watched the game on CBS, with 120 million viewers recorded, according to Nielsen.
This year’s Super Bowl had much to offer, including an overtime period, a game-winning touchdown pass, and the presence of an elite Kansas City team with a superstar quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. The game also featured Travis Kelce, Kansas City’s starting tight end, who happens to be dating pop megastar Taylor Swift.
In addition to the Super Bowl success, the N.F.L. experienced an overall ratings boost in 2024, with viewership up 7 percent compared to the previous year. Several playoff games set ratings records, and league officials attributed the increase to numerous close games and a playoff hunt that remained competitive until the end of the season.
Still, the success of N.F.L. telecasts stands in contrast to the rest of traditional television, which has been experiencing a decline in viewership as more consumers turn to on-demand streaming entertainment. In light of this, many are anticipating the return of new episodes of scripted shows on CBS in the coming week, as well as the potential impact of additional commercial breaks during the Super Bowl, which reportedly netted the network roughly an extra $35 million.
Opinion: The continued strength of the N.F.L.’s viewership numbers, particularly with events like the Super Bowl, underscores the enduring appeal of live sports in today’s fragmented media landscape. As traditional television faces challenges, live sporting events provide a unique and compelling draw for audiences, offering communal viewing experiences that can’t be replicated in the on-demand streaming world. This represents a valuable asset for networks and advertisers, and the N.F.L.’s ability to maintain and even grow its audience is a significant achievement in today’s media environment.