Super Bowl XLV Sets Viewership Record

For the second year in a row, the Super Bowl has set a new record for American television viewing.

The Nielsen Co. said Monday that an estimated 111 million people watched the Green Bay Packers outlast the Pittsburgh Steelers in professional football’s ultimate game. That tops the 106.5 million who watched the 2010 game between New Orleans and Indianapolis.

In fact, the most-watched single play of the game was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s final incomplete pass to Mike Wallace with about a minute to go, according to measurements by TiVo Inc., the digital video recorder maker. When that pass hit the ground, it clinched the game for Green Bay.

The series finale of “M-A-S-H” had held the title of the most-watched TV show in the United States for 27 years. It is now No. 3.

Fox had the advantage of a game between two of the National Football League’s iconic franchises and, even though it looked like it could be a rout when the Packers took a 21-3 lead, it went down to the final minute and held viewers’ interest.

Fox’s “Glee” took advantage of the time slot directly after the game, reaching 26.8 million viewers for its special episode. It was the most-watched scripted entertainment program on TV since Fox’s “House” aired after the Super Bowl three years ago, Nielsen said.

Meanwhile, a two-minute ad for Chrysler starring Eminem and a Volkswagen ad featuring a mini-Darth Vader that went viral before it even aired were two of the most talked-about spots during advertising’s big night, the Super Bowl, in which Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25.

Chrysler was one of nine automakers that took advantage of advertising’s biggest and most expensive showcase, at $3 million for 30 seconds, to try to show they’re back after two tough years for the industry.

The cinematic third-quarter Chrysler ad starred Eminem driving through Detroit and introduced a new car, the Chrysler 200 sedan, amid gritty scenes of the city. A voiceover talks about how the city has survived going through “hell and back.”

The Chrysler ad was “the big story of the night,” according to NM Incite, which tracks online buzz.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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