According to preliminary Nielsen figures, CBS’ broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday became the most-watched television event in U.S. history, drawing in 123.4 million viewers across CBS, Univision, and various streaming platforms.
The significance lies in the nail-biting overtime conclusion, celebrity appearances, and the Kansas City Chiefs’ historic consecutive victory, making the NFL set a new television record at a time when few events can gather vast American audiences. The Chiefs faced the San Francisco 49ers in a matchup that averaged 123.4 million viewers across all platforms, showing a more than 7% increase compared to last year’s game, which held the previous record at 115.1 million viewers, as reported by CBS Sports.
Of the total viewership, 120 million watched the game live on CBS, marking the largest audience ever for a single TV network event. The Super Bowl also made history on Univision, averaging 2.2 million viewers, the highest viewership on record for a Spanish-language network. A kid-friendly version was broadcast on CBS’ sister network Nickelodeon.
CBS claimed the game was the most-streamed Super Bowl in history, although specific viewership data for streaming was not provided. For context, Fox reported an average of 7 million streams for its broadcast of last year’s game.
This Super Bowl marked the conclusion of a record NFL season for viewership, attributed to competitive games and compelling off-the-field narratives, such as Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s relationship with Taylor Swift. In 2023, the NFL occupied 93 of the top 100 broadcast programs, increasing from 82 in 2022 to 72 in 2020.
The Super Bowl remains one of the few events capable of uniting millions of people simultaneously. Consequently, CBS was able to command a substantial $7 million per 30-second advertising spot during this year’s game, up from approximately $4.4 million in 2016.
Beyond being a culturally significant annual event, the Super Bowl is a lucrative opportunity for advertisers, celebrities, and politicians to market themselves. The analysis of the game’s advertising is considered a valuable barometer for gauging the state of the U.S. economy, reflecting its broader impact.
Final Nielsen figures, expected on Tuesday, are anticipated to show a slight increase in viewership compared to the preliminary numbers. iSpot.tv, a media measurement firm rivaling Nielsen, reported on Monday that its data indicated that 126.6 million people watched the game across TV and streaming platforms.