Super Bowl XLIII may not have equalled the audience for last year's game, but NBC isn't complaining.
The Big Game, featuring a back-and-forth fourth quarter culminating in a Pittsburgh Steelers win, averaged 95.4 million viewers, making it the second most watched Super Bowl of all-time.
"The Super Bowl, once again, proved its ability to captivate America," says Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics. "The National Football League should feel a great sense of pride in providing a day of enjoyment to American families – especially those who are struggling in these difficult times."
Super Bowl XLIII reached a total audience of 147 million viewers, again second in Super Bowl history.
In both average viewership and total audience, Super Bowl XLIII trailed only Super Bowl XLII (i.e. last year's game), which averaged 97.5 million and reached a total audience of 148 million. Last year's game had the advantage of featuring a team from the nation's top media market (the New York Giants) going up against a team gunning for an undefeated season (the New England Patriots).
Both games still rank behind the series finale of "M*A*S*H*," which averaged 106 million viewers when it aired in 1983. It remains the most-watched television broadcast ever.
The episode of "The Office" airing after the big game averaged 22 million viewers, lowest for the post-Super Bowl entertainment program since 2003 ("Alias"). Still, it remains far-and-away the most watched "Office" episode ever.