INDIANAPOLIS – Each of the last three Super Bowls has reached more than 153.4 million viewers.
Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII match between San Francisco and Baltimore should reach numbers that compare well with the last three title matchups, and it will end an outstanding three-year run of NFL television viewership.
The fall period of the 2010 season was the NFL's most-viewed season. A total of 207.7 million viewers watched action, and all five of the networks airing broadcasts posted increases in viewership.
According to information provided by The Nielsen Company, from September 1, 2010 through January 27, 2013, NFL games accounted for 135 of the 247 television shows (55 percent) that reached at least 20 million average viewers. The figures were based on live plus same day viewership (minimum show length of 30 minutes).
Of the 43 shows that reached at least 30 million average viewers, NFL regular-season and post-season games accounted for 30. The NFL had 11 of the 12 programs shown during that period that reached at least 40 million average viewers.
Of the 247 shows that drew that reached at least 20 million average viewers, no sport related only to America had more than five such telecasts. The next-closest event to NFL coverage was American Idol with 39 such telecasts.
CBS Sports will telecast its 18th Super Bowl this Sunday. NBC has aired the game 17 times, while ABC has had seven telecasts to FOX's six (CBS and NBC both telecast Super Bowl I).
CBS will use 62 cameras from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The number of credentialed personnel is in the hundreds.
Last year from Lucas Oil Stadium, NBC had 31-32 cameras shooting the action. About 185-to-200 network personnel were associated with the actual game broadcast. CBS, like NBC last year, has off-shoot programming throughout the week. Last year's credential total for NBC for its coverage of Super Bowl week reached nearly 750.
Last year's game from Indianapolis reached 159.2 million viewers. The Colts played in Super Bowls XLI and XLIV, both broadcast on CBS. When the Colts beat Chicago on February 4, 2007, 139.8 million viewers saw all or part of the action. When the Colts and New Orleans met after the 2009 season, 153.4 million was the viewing audience.
Fred Gaudelli produced Super Bowl XLVI from Indianapolis last year and framed the scope of the event.
"It's an American holiday that everybody celebrates," said Gaudelli. "Even if you're a football fan for one day of the year, this is that day you're that football fan.
"The NFL is incredible because every time you think it can't get bigger, it gets bigger. If you look at the ratings, this is the only product that has grown on a continual basis in the last decade. Everyone else has audience erosion, and this thing (the NFL) keeps getting bigger and bigger, and the ratings go up and up. Every time you think, 'Well, it can't get bigger than it is right now,' somehow it finds a way."
CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus has said previously, "The Super Bowl is virtually immune to the altered TV landscape. It appears insulated from the vagaries of market size that afflict other sports whose championship series show up-and-down viewership patterns."