By James Hibberd
Updated February 06, 2012 at 03:57 PM EST
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UPDATE: In final Nielsen ratings, NBC’s Super Bowl XLVI broke records to become the most-watched TV telecast of all time.

Sunday’s game delivered an incredible 111.3 million viewers, just barely edging out last year’s 111.0 million viewers. Among adults 18-49, the game garnered 40.5 rating. It marks the seventh straight year of Super Bowl audience increases.

NBC’s post-game presentation of the second season opener of The Voice (arguably the more important telecast for the network) garnered a likewise stunning 36.7 million viewers, becoming the highest-rated non-sports telecast in six years. The Voice is also up 47 in the demo vs. Fox’s post-Bowl airing of Glee last year.

The Sunday telecasts are a big win for NBC, despite being marred in the press by M.I.A.’s “inappropriate gesture” during Madonna’s half-time show.

One could argue that a broadcast network has never needed this massive ratings surge more than NBC does right now. The network’s new fall shows largely withered and NBC’s overall ratings health is anemic. While the Super Bowl is notoriously unreliable for giving host networks any long-term ratings increases, the wildly successful re-launch of competition series The Voice is a good sign. Coupled with tonight’s series premiere of Smash, the network has a shot at using last night’s massive numbers to jump-start some of its midseason time periods.


1. 111.3 Million – Super Bowl XLVI, NBC (Last Night’s Game)

2. 111.0 Million – Super Bowl XLV, Fox

3. 106.5 Million – Super Bowl XLIV, CBS

4. 106.0 Million – M.A.S.H. Finale, CBS

5. 98.7 Million – Super Bowl XLIII, NBC

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