Super Bowl might be most watched program ever

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The Associated Press

NEW YORK_Very preliminary findings from 49 of the nation’s biggest markets showed that ratings for this year’s Super Bowl, with the New York Giants’ thrilling win over the New England Patriots, were up 6 percent over last year’s big game, according to Nielsen Media Research on Monday.

Experts say those numbers indicate the game has a strong shot at being the most-watched Super Bowl of all time, and the second most-watched broadcast ever.

The game, broadcast on Fox, had a 44.7 rating and 66 share, Nielsen said. That’s up from the 42.0 rating and 63 share in metered markets last year. Nielsen did not immediately have an estimate of how many people watched the game.

The metered market average this year was also missing Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and Dallas due to Nielsen delays.

The most-watched telecast of all time was the 1983 finale of “M-A-S-H,” seen by 106 million people. The most-watched Super Bowl ever was the 1996 game between Dallas and Pittsburgh, with 94.1 million people.

Last year’s game between Indianapolis and Chicago was seen by 93.2 million people, Nielsen said.

Fox is owned by News Corp. The average price of an ad was $2.7 million for 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, a separate survey from TiVo Inc., makers of digital video recorders, found that the E-Trade ad showing a baby talking about stock deals – and spitting up at the end – was the most-watched commercial during the game.

Counting in people who played back material on their DVRs, the commercials were watched by more people than the game, TiVo said.