By James Hibberd
Updated February 04, 2013 at 02:51 PM EST
Credit: Getty Images

UPDATED: Blame the blackout?

Sunday’s Super Bowl showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers game couldn’t score the ultimate ratings touchdown.

Super Bowl XLVII delivered 108.4 million viewers. That makes last night’s game the third most-watched program in U.S. history, down 3 percent from last year’s record-holding championship telecast.

The viewership does not include the roughly 34 minutes of airtime where game play was suspended due to the Superdome’s much-mocked power outage. Ratings increased steadily throughout the telecast, then dipped during the partial stadium blackout. After play resumed, viewership climbed to new heights, peaking from 10:30-10:45 PM, ET, during the final moments of the game.

So whether you include the blackout or not, the Super Bowl fell shy of an all-time high. One could argue that by halting the momentum of the game and pushing the rest of the event until later in the evening that the numbers might have been higher had the blackout never occurred. Or the numbers could have been even lower. There’s no way to know for certain. But one suspects the ratings for this game will always carry an asterisk in the minds of analysts due to its dramatic format break.

The performance snaps a recent trend of record-setting Super Bowl telecasts.

The viewership dip was also somewhat surprising. The early metered-market household ratings suggested CBS might be in for some great headlines today. The key preliminary number (a 48.1 rating in top markets) was an all-time record. But as we pointed out this morning, the early numbers don’t exactly corresponded to the more accurate national ratings released in the afternoon. In this case, the margin of error made things too close to call.

As for CBS’ post-game presentation of Elementary, go here for ratings and analysis.

Full Chart:


1. 111.3 Million – Super Bowl XLVI, NBC

2. 111.0 Million – Super Bowl XLV, Fox

3. 108.4 Million — Super Bowl XLVII, CBS

4. 106.5 Million – Super Bowl XLIV, CBS

5. 106.0 Million – M.A.S.H. Finale, CBS

6. 98.7 Million – Super Bowl XLIII, NBC