The 2015 Super Bowl is the television event of the year, as the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots battle to become crowned the NFL’s top team. Not only is the game guaranteed to draw higher ratings than any show this year, but it also has a good chance to set a viewership record.
Last year’s Super Bowl set a record with an average of 111.5 million viewers, per Nielsen, and the recent trend suggests that the number will be even higher on Sunday. While the TV audience was slightly down for the 2013 Super Bowl, viewership increased in each of the previous seven Super Bowls, compared to the year before. The rating for the game two years ago was likely affected by the 34-minute blackout that occurred in the third quarter.
Based on the increase in viewership in three of the last four Super Bowls, Sunday’s game is likely to generate more than 111.5 million viewers, and it could surpass the record set in 2014 with ease. Bovada.lv has set the odds of more than 113 million people tuning in at 1/2. The odds of fewer than 113 million people watching the game are 3/2.
There’s little reason to believe the Patriots and Seahawks won’t set a new viewership record, since last year's game did just that, even though it was one of the most lopsided games in Super Bowl history. Not only did Seattle beat the Denver Broncos, 43-8, but the game was decided early in the second half. Percy Harvin’s kickoff return to start the third quarter gave the Seahawks a 29-0 lead. Sunday’s game is expected to be close, with the Patriots favored by just one point.
The game might set a viewership record, but it won’t come close to being the highest rated television event of all time. The series finale of "M.A.S.H." has held that honor since 1983, registering a 60.2 rating, as 77 percent of televisions in use were tuned into the program.
The 2014 Super Bowl registered a 46.4 rating, and the game’s rating has been 46 or higher in each of the last four years. Bovada.lv has set the over/under for this year’s rating at 47.5, giving the same odds of either scenario occurring. The 1982 Super Bowl holds the all-time record with a 49.1 rating, as the San Francisco 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the game’s final minute.
Super Bowl I between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs was seen by an audience of 24.43 million people, generating an 18.5 rating. The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts drew over 100 million viewers for the first time in 2010, and the NFL hasn’t looked back since.
NFL ratings have been strong this season, despite multiple scandals. The week after the video was released of Ray Rice striking his wife, viewership for games increased. Even as the league investigates the current “Deflategate” controversy, Sunday’s game will likely set even more records.
The league's dominance in the sports world is highlighted by the ratings of the other championship games. The 2014 World Series was the least watched seven-game series in MLB history, while the 2014 NBA Finals generated its lowest rating in five years.