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Super Bowl Ratings Record: Giants-Patriots Game Is Highest-Rated TV Show In US History

Super Bowl

DAVID BAUDER   02/ 6/12 03:58 PM ET  AP

NEW YORK — For the third consecutive year, the Super Bowl set a record as the most-watched television show in U.S. history.

The Nielsen Co. said Monday that an estimated 111.3 million people watched the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots on Sunday night. That narrowly beat the 111 million who watched Green Bay's win over Pittsburgh last year.

NBC was blessed by a competitive game between two teams that played in one of the Super Bowl's most memorable contests four years ago, with one of them representing the largest media market in the country.

The game wasn't over until Tom Brady's last-second heave into the end zone dropped onto the turf. That play itself had the biggest audience of any play in the game, according to the digital video recorder maker Tivo. Nielsen said 117.7 million people were watching during the last half hour of the game.

The last two Super Bowls, along with the 2010 game between New Orleans and Indianapolis and the finale of "M-A-S-H" in 1983, are the only programs to exceed 100 million viewers in U.S. television history.

Madonna has some bragging rights, too. Her halftime show was seen by an estimated 114 million people – a higher average than the game itself – and was the most-watched Super Bowl halftime entertainment show on record, Nielsen said.

"I was rooting for Madonna as much as I was for the Giants," said Tara Maitra, senior vice president of Tivo, which also monitored viewership trends during the game.

The good news continued after the game for NBC, when the heavily-promoted season premiere of "The Voice" kept 37.6 million people in front of the television.

Its fans were disappointed, but Boston had its highest rating ever for an NFL game on Sunday. It was the second highest-rating ever in the New York market, behind only the Giants' first Super Bowl in 1986, Nielsen said.

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  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots walks across the field before the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl

    New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch waits on the field during warmups before the New York Giants take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Fans watches warmups on the field before the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Fans of the New England Patriots are seen prior to the game against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants is seen on the field during warmups before the New York Giants take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants warms up prior to playing the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants shakes hands with team owner Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots runs on the field before the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants works out on the field with his teammates during warmups before the New York Giants take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots (L) greets his head coach Bill Belichick on the field before the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Actor Donnie Wahlbergl is seen on the field during warmups before the New York Giants take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots works with his receivers on the field before the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    A fan takes a picture of the field prior to Super Bowl XLVI between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (R) greets head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants (L) on the field before the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Members of the New York Giants are seen on the field during warmups before the New York Giants take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    New York Giants fans celebrate before the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Members of the New York Giants take the field during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Country singers Miranda Lambert and husband Blake Shelton perform "America the Beautiful" before the start of Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants looks to hand off the ball against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants reacts to a first down during the first quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants drops back to pass during the first quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Tight end Bear Pascoe #86 of the New York Giants runs with the ball after a catch Eli Manning #10 in the first quarter against Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants drops back to pass during the first quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is pressured in the endzone by Justin Tuck #91 of the New York Giants in the first quarter resulting in a safety during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants drops back to pass during the first quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Pregame Show

    Katy Perry attends the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Pregame Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is pressured in the endzone by Justin Tuck #91 of the New York Giants in the first quarter resulting in a safety during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants drops back to pass as he is pressured by Gerard Warren #98 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants celebrates after Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants caught a two yard touchdown pass in first quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Ahmad Bradshaw #44 of the New York Giants runs past Patrick Chung #25 of the New England Patriots in the first quarter during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Referee John Parry signals a safety after an intentional grounding call against Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants is sacked for a loss on third down by Mark Anderson #95 and Rob Ninkovich #50 of the New England Patriots in the first quarter during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants celebrates with his teammates after catching a two yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning #10 in the first quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Receiver Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants fights off two New England Patriots defenders during the first quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants hauls in a two-yard touchdown against James Ihedigbo #44 of the New England Patriots in the first quarter during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Hakeem Nicks #88 celebrates with Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants after a two yard touchdown pass in first quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Sterling Moore #29 of the New England Patriots celebrates a play against the New York Giants in the first half during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Ahmad Bradshaw (L) of the New York Giant

    Ahmad Bradshaw (L) of the New York Giants is stopped in his tracks by Brandon Spikes (R) of the New England Patriots in the first quarter during Super Bowl XLVI on February 5, 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Sterling Moore #29 of the New England Patriots celebrates a play against the New York Giants in the first half during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Tight end Aaron Hernandez #81 of the New England Patriots of the New England Patriots fights off the tackle of Deon Grant #34 of the New York Giants in the first half during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Danny Woodhead #39 of the New England Patriots catches a three yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady #12 in the second quarter against Michael Boley #59 and Kenny Phillips #21 of the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Danny Woodhead #39 of the New England Patriots catches a three yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady #12 in the second quarter against Kenny Phillips #21 of the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Hakeem Nicks (C) of the New York Giants

    Hakeem Nicks (C) of the New York Giants is brought down during Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots on February 5, 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Super Bowl XLVI

    Runningback Danny Woodhead #39 of the New England Patriots celebrates with quarterback Tom Brady #12 after catching a three yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady #12 in the second quarter against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show

    Singer Madonna performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show

    Singer Madonna performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show

    Singer Madonna performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show

    Singer Madonna performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show

    Singer Madonna performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show

    Singer Madonna performs with Redfoo and Sky Blu of LMFAO during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show

    Singer Madonna performs with Redfoo of LMFAO during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Filed by Jack Mirkinson  |