* 111 mln TV audience tops last year’s 106.5 mln viewers
* Games scores TV rating of 46, highest since 1986 (Adds final national ratings numbers, NFL comment, background, byline)
By Ben Klayman
DETROIT, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Super Bowl XLV scored with viewers as the National Football League’s championship game set a new record for the largest U.S. television audience for a single broadcast.
The Green Bay Packers’ 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday drew a U.S. TV audience of 111 million, topping the 2010 final tally by almost 5 million, according to data released on Monday by News Corp’s (NWSA.O)Fox, which broadcast the game.
“We’re excited about the fan reaction from last night and the incredible game they were able to see,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on Monday.
Last year, 106.5 million watched the New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts on CBSCBS.N, surpassing the 106 million who tuned in for the finale of the comedy “M*A*S*H” in 1983.
The Super Bowl in 2009, aired on the NBC television network, drew 98.7 million viewers. The 2008 Super Bowl, broadcast on Fox, drew 97.5 million.
The growth in the Super Bowl’s audience illustrates why advertisers pay up to $3 million for a 30-second commercial during the game. [ID:nN07219564]
The final numbers for this year’s Super Bowl capped a strong year for the U.S. sports league. The NFL’s 2010 regular season games were watched by a record 207.7 million unique viewers, according to research firm Nielsen (NLSN.N).
For the first time, an NFL game was the most-watched show among all programs in each of the season’s 17 weeks, and league games accounted for the 19 most-watched TV shows among all programming last fall as well as 28 of the top 30.
The most-watched moment of this year’s Super Bowl was Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s last incomplete pass in the final minute, clinching the victory for the Packers, according to digital video recorder maker TiVo Inc (TIVO.O).
The Super Bowl’s drawing power also was seen in the ratings for musical comedy “Glee,” which more than doubled its normal TV audience for a special episode that aired immediately after the NFL game. [ID:nN07227217]
“The airing of Super Bowl XLV goes down as Fox’s most-watched night of prime time ever, as well as Fox’s highest-rated night ever among Adults 18-49. It’s also the most-watched night on any network in at least 20 years,” Fox said in a statement. Fox network was launched in 1986.
The final rating for this year’s game was a 46, tying it with the 1996 game for the highest-rated NFL championship since Super Bowl XX in 1986, Fox said.
A ratings point is a percentage of U.S. television households that watched the program.
This year’s Super Bowl scored a 59.7 overnight rating in the Pittsburgh and Milwaukee markets, tied for the second-highest rating in a single market in Super Bowl history behind the 63 in Chicago for Super Bowl XX in 1986, Fox said.
In Dallas, the host market for this year’s game, the overnight rating was 53.7, while it was 42.6 in New York, 40.1 in Los Angeles and 51.4 in Chicago, Fox said. (Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit, editing by Matthew Lewis)