Despite the NFL’s declining ratings in recent years, the Super Bowl is consistently the biggest draw in American professional sports. Sunday night’s game was no exception, with the Philadelphia Eagles’ dramatic win over the New England Patriots getting a 47.7 overnight rating on NBC. The game peaked in the fourth quarter with a 52.2 rating.
Nielsen is reporting that 103.4 million viewers watched Super Bowl 52. This is the tenth most watched Super Bowl of all time. Super Bowl 49 remains the most watched Super Bowl, with 114.4 million viewers.
The rating is down 3 percent from last year’s game, which drew a 48.8 overnight rating and ended up with an average of 111.3 million viewers for FOX. The final rating was 45.3 in a game that featured the Patriots making a historic comeback over the Atlanta Falcons.
Overnight TV ratings are not the final number. They measure 56 national television markets, representing more than two-thirds of the country’s potential audience, and give networks an early indication of what the final ratings will be. The complete numbers should be available later on Monday.
It is also worth noting the live stream number that will factor in. The NFL broadcaster streams the Super Bowl on their respective live stream tool. If you watched the NBC Sports stream, you were one of 2.02 million such viewers, according to Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand. NBC is calling this the most live-streamed Super Bowl ever, with a peak of 3.1 million concurrent streams.
The highest-rated Super Bowl of the past decade featured the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 49. That game finished with a 47.5 rating and an average of 114.4 million viewers. Ratings have declined each of the last three years, with this year’s down three years after slight increases each of the previous two seasons.
There are many theories and guesses as to why the NFL’s ratings are going down, some more valid than others. But even if fans are tuning out of the regular season and playoffs, the Super Bowl remains the one event guaranteed to do huge numbers. That was true once again in 2018, even with the slight decline.