Super Bowl XLIV: Most-Watched Program In Television History

The only thing harder to believe than the Saints winning the NFL championship is the final episode of M*A*S*H ending its reign as the most watched television show of all-time.

Super Bowl XLIV, which saw the New Orleans Saints defeat the Indianapolis Colts, drew 106.5 million viewers making it the most watched television broadcast ever. The final episode of CBS’ seminal sitcom M*A*S*H drew a paltry 105.97 million viewers when it aired in 1983.

The king is dead. Long live the king.

Sunday’s Big Game, played February 7th, 2010, was up eight percent from the year’s previous contest. That Super Bowl, which was decided in the waning moments, featured the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals and was seen by 98.7 million people.

When the finale of Seinfeld failed to surpass the finale of M*A*S*H it became apparent that no scripted television show was going to topple the Korean comedy. There are just too many channels for a regular television show to capture the attention of 100 million viewers.

The Super Bowl has been creeping towards M*A*S*H’s record for a decade. The ten most watched television broadcasts of the 21st century have all been Super Bowls.

“With all the memorable story lines going into Super Bowl XLIV, combined with the awesome power of the NFL, we are thrilled with this rating, and I am extremely proud of the way the entire CBS Television Network produced, sold and promoted the most-watched television show in history,” said Sean McManus, president of CBS news and sports.

The above picture is from a Late Show With David Lettermen promo. The promo’s cast of Lettermen, Oprah Winfrey, and Jay Leno made it one of the most talked-about commericials of the Super Bowl.

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