Super Bowl ratings drop 4 percent. Still, it's the most-watched night in Fox history

By Gary Susman
Updated February 08, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Maybe it needed a little more exposed flesh. Early Nielsen estimates suggest that viewership for Fox’s G-rated Super Bowl telecast, with its more tasteful ads and a halftime show featuring a tame Paul McCartney instead of a bustier-ripping Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson, was down about 4 percent from last year’s edition on CBS. Still, the game drew an estimated 86.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched night in the two-decade history of the Fox broadcast network. In fact, when ratings for the entire week are released later on Tuesday, the combination of the Super Bowl and American Idol should make this the most-watched week in Fox history.

Also doing well was the post-game episode of The Simpsons, whose estimated 23.5 million viewers made it the most-watched scripted-show follow-up to the game in recent years. (Last year’s unscripted Survivor: All-Stars premiere drew 33.5 million.) After Homer and Ned’s football triumph, the sneak peak at this spring’s new animated series American Dad drew just 15.1 million, but it won’t bring down Fox’s average because it premiered after 11 p.m. ET, too late to be counted in primetime.