An almost unfathomable 123.4 million Americans tuned into the Kansas City Chiefs’ 25-22 win over the San Francisco 49ers to make it the most watched Super Bowl in history.
The overtime thriller, as well as the Taylor Swift effect, eclipsed the previous record broadcast audience of 115.1m viewers the previous year as the Chiefs became the ninth team to go back-to-back in the Super Bowl.
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While officials would be cheering at NFL HQ over the numbers, even 8.3 million extra viewers couldn’t knock off the most watched broadcast in US television history — the 1969 Moon landing, which brought in an estimated 150 million viewers when the US population was just over 200 million.
With a current population of 331.9 million people, it means that more than one-in-three Americans tuned in to the event, which is mind-bending considering the move away from terrestrial TV in recent years.
In Australia, the interest was also strong with Channel 7 reporting that 2.7 million Aussies tuned in across Seven and 7plus — way up from the 1.68m of the year before.
However, it’s a long way short of the Matildas madness in 2023, with the Women’s World Cup Final reaching 11.15m viewers, which is the highest rating television program since 2001 when OzTAM records began to be kept.
But 2.7m is nothing to sneeze at in Australia for America’s biggest sport.
“Super Bowl is one of the world’s greatest sporting spectacles, and while we think our American friends can take a leaf or two out of our AFL broadcasting playbook, Seven’s NFL coverage only keeps growing, smashing last year’s already strong audience record across broadcast and digital,” Seven’s head of network sport Lewis Martin said.
Plenty of pundits have put the increased interest in the NFL this season, which has seen the sport have its best regular season viewership since 2015 — the equal second best season on record — on Swift’s influence bringing in more female viewers.
Consumer research firm Numerator ran a poll of 800 people after the match, reporting 20 per cent of Super Bowl viewers were watching because of Swift.
In fact, a Super Bowl commercial from Cetaphil covered just that, featuring a father and daughter bonding over Swift being a feature at NFL games.
Swift and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s relationship has dominated headlines in 2023.
And it went next level when Swift’s return captivated many as she to the US from the Japanese leg of her historic Eras Tour, and seemingly every move she made at the Super Bowl was shared to the world.
However, the New York Post reported that Swift was shown for just 54 seconds on the CBS broadcast, according to analyst Jason Pauley, accounting for just 0.36 per cent of the four hour and eight minute’s of game-time.
Swift’s attendance at her boyfriend’s games have also sparked some wild conspiracy theories, including that the pair are an “artificial couple” brought together only as part of a nefarious US Democratic Party “psyop”.
The pair were reportedly going to endorse current US President Joe Biden at the game — however no endorsement has yet been given.
But Biden himself triggered Americans after the match, posting a picture of Biden’s alter-ego Dark Brandon off his @JoeBiden account with a caption of “Just like we drew it up”.
Originally published as Super Bowl LVIII becomes second most watched TV event in US history