CBS Sports’ telecast of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs averaged 91.629 million viewers, down 8% from Fox’s telecast of the Super Bowl last year. The CBS number includes out-of-home viewership.
This year marks the lowest TV-only audience for the Big Game since Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks averaged 90.75 million viewers on ABC in 2006.
The numbers were better for overall viewing, with CBS recording a total audience delivery of 96.4 million viewers across all platforms — down 6% from last year.
CBS noted Bucs-Chiefs was the most live-streamed NFL game ever, averaging 5.7 million viewers per minute, up 65% from last year’s game. It was the first NFL game in history to total more than 1 billion streaming minutes.
Multiple factors unique to the game may have driven down TV numbers.
- The game was a blowout with the Bucs’ 22-point win representing the second-biggest margin of victory over the last 18 Super Bowls. TV viewers don’t stick around for lop-sided contests.
- Referees largely controlled the pace and drama, particularly in the first half.
- There could have been Tom Brady fatigue for his 10th Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl audience drops are in line with the NFL’s 8% falloff for the 2020 regular season. But the numbers still caught many sports media-watchers by surprise — particularly after the AFC and NFC Championship games drew rating increases.