History has been made as Super Bowl LVIII now stands alone as the most-watched event in American television history.
The Chiefs’ 25-22 overtime win over the 49ers on CBS drew an average audience in the U.S. of 123.4 million, beating last year’s record Super Bowl draw of 115.1 million by 7%, according to Nielsen fast national figures released late Monday by the network.
The viewership average—spanning the main CBS broadcast network, Paramount+, Nickelodeon, Univision, and related digital properties—tops all other scheduled programming spanning more than seven decades of television audience measurement. There are various estimates that the 1969 landing on the moon by U.S. astronauts drew an American audience of 125 million to 150 million across multiple networks, and perhaps 500 million to 600 million worldwide. But those figures were not verified, leaving Sunday’s game as the new industry standard bearer, certainly for any programmed event aired on a single network.
The Super Bowl LVIII viewership total is also the culmination of a banner season that included robust audience growth in the regular season and then the wild card, divisional, and conference championship playoff rounds.
CBS said 202.4 million people in the U.S. cumulatively watched all or part of the Super Bowl, representing the game’s largest total audience ever, up 10% from the comparable figure from a year ago. The network itself by far led the way with the average viewership among the various Paramount-owned properties, generating a figure of 120 million.
For the game, though, there was a further confluence of powerful factors helping to drive viewership beyond the surging popularity of the NFL overall, including an attractive Chiefs-49ers matchup, the allure of the first title game in Las Vegas, just the second overtime game in Super Bowl history (which very nearly became the first to reach double overtime), and of course, the Taylor Swift effect. Specific demographic information on the game viewership hasn’t yet been released, but it’s expected there was some boost into the telecast from fans drawn in because of the pop star’s romantic relationship with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
Full Nielsen figures from the game are expected to be released Tuesday.