The Super Bowl narrowly edged out last year's to become the most-watched television show in U.S. history. It scored 111.3 million viewers, just over last year's 111 millon, which broke the 2010 record.
The 40.5 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic was the highest for a Super Bowl in 16 years, thanks in part to a contest between the New England Patriots and victorious New York Giants that was close down to the final seconds. (The 1996 Super Bowl scored a 41.2 demo rating.)
Viewership climbed throughout the game, averaging 117.7 million in the final half hour. Madonna's halftime show was also the most-watched ever, and was seen by an average 114 million viewers.
The second-season premiere of NBC's "The Voice" after the Super Bowl, meanwhile, scored the highest ratings of any entertainment telecast since 2006.
"The Voice" scored a 16.3 rating in the key demo and 37.6 million total viewers overall. It was the best rating since a 16.5 for "Grey's Anatomy" after the Super Bowl on ABC in 2006, and provided a welcome boost for fourh-place network NBC.
The show was up 47 percent in the demo and 40 percent in total viewers over the episode of "Glee" that aired after the Super Bowl on Fox last year. ("Glee" scored an 11.1 and 26.8 million total viewers.)
The show airing after the Super Bowl is typically the highest-rated entertainment program of the season, and that will almost certainly be the case again this year. Prior to the post-game "Voice" premiere, the season's highest-rated entertainment program was the season premiere of "Two and a Half Men," which drew 27.7 million viewers curious to see how Ashton Kutcher would fill Charlie Sheen's shoes. It earned a 10.3 rating in the demo.
The strong ratings for "The Voice" bode well for the show as it moves to its new Monday time slot tonight, where it will challenge "Men" and other CBS comedies from 8 to 10 p.m. CBS's sitcom lineup has dominated Monday nights all season, but NBC hopes "The Voice" will thrive and provide a strong lead-in for the new musical drama "Smash" at 10.