Super Bowl LV Draws 96.4 Million Multiplatform Viewers, Lowest Since 2007

CBS had Brady vs. Mahomes on Sunday — but the game did not live up to the hype

Last Updated: February 9, 2021 @ 8:15 AM

Super Bowl LV drew 96.4 million total multiplatform viewers on Sunday, when 2021’s big game aired on CBS. That all-in tally was the lowest since 2007. It includes a ton of platforms: the CBS Television Network (which brought in 91.629 million of those viewers), CBS Sports and NFL digital properties, Buccaneers and Chiefs mobile properties, Verizon Media mobile properties and ESPN Deportes television and digital properties.

Despite the marquee quarterback matchup, Super Bowl LV was a pretty boring game. It was mostly noncompetitive, and the Kansas City Chiefs played sloppily. Tom Brady, who was named the game’s MVP, threw for just 201 yards in the winning effort. He had three touchdown passes (two to former New England Patriots teammate Rob Gronkowski) to zero interceptions. That was more than enough for the comfortable 31-9 victory.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive unit was arguably the real most valuable player(s) last night, keeping Patrick Mahomes on the run — when he wasn’t on the ground, that is. Brady scored his record seventh Super Bowl ring last night. He’s now three ahead of Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw — and still playing.

Last year’s Super Bowl LIV initially drew 102 million viewers counting Fox, Fox Deportes and Fox’s, the NFL’s and Verizon’s digital properties. Fox’s broadcast channel racked up 99.9 million of the 102 million. Spanish-language channel Fox Deportes added 757,000 viewers.

Those numbers made the year-ago Super Bowl the 10th most-watched Super Bowl in history, up 1.3% from 2019. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez’s 2020 halftime performance averaged 103 million viewers.

Adding in out-of-home viewing, which really wasn’t — or at least, shouldn’t have been — an option this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020’s Super Bowl audience soared to 113.4 million total viewers. So, depending how you choose is fairest to look at 2020 vs. 2021, Super Bowl LV’s total audience was down either 5% or 15%. Nielsen said out-of-home added less than half a million viewers, pushing the total up to 92 million for Sunday’s game.

Super Bowl LIV in 2020 had a 41.6 household rating, and was watched in an average of 50.2 million homes. That’s 69% of the homes that had televisions in use at the time. This year’s Super Bowl drew a 38.2 household rating, and watched in an average of 46.2 million homes. That was roughly 68% of homes that were using TV on Sunday night, which shows how much the overall pay-TV universe has eroded even in just one year.

Super Bowl LV was the first time the game fell under a 40 household rating since 1990, when the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers obliterated John Elway’s Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV. That game drew a 39 rating. The 38.2 rating for this year’s game was the lowest since Joe Namath led the New York Jets’ historic upset over Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

Super Bowl LV was the most live-streamed NFL game ever, CBS said. An additional 647,000 viewers on ESPN Deportes, which provided the Spanish-language broadcast.

In 2007, the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears. Slightly more than 93 million Americans tuned in to watch that one.

The most-watched Super Bowl — and telecast, for that matter — in history is 2015’s Super Bowl XLIX on NBC, which averaged 114.4 million total viewers.

Remember that nail biter? The New England Patriots topped the defending champion Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in dramatic fashion, when Russell Wilson threw an interception in the final minute from his opponent’s one-yard-line.

Queen Latifah’s new drama “The Equalizer” debuted immediately following the football. “The Equalizer” started at 10:39 p.m. ET.