After standing for more than 26 years, the finale of "M*A*SH" has lost its place as the most-watched program in television history.
Although the numbers aren't final yet, CBS is boasting that Super Bowl XLIV averaged 106.5 million viewers, passing the 1983 conclusion of "M*A*S*H," which drew nearly 106 million.
"With all the memorable story lines going into Super Bowl XLIV combined with the awesome power of the NFL, we are thrilled with this rating, and I am extremely proud of the way the entire CBS Television Network produced, sold and promoted the most-watched television show in history," raves CBS Sports President Sean McManus in a statement.
Now obviously there are caveats, not the least of which being the massive discrepancy in available television viewership between 1983 and 2010 (115 million television homes today, compared to 83 million back then), but that doesn't mean that the numbers for the Saints' victory over the Colts weren't tremendously impressive (nor should it take anything away from the ridiculous duration of that "M*A*S*H" record, which is still far from being topped when it comes to pure household ratings and share).
This is the first time the Super Bowl has averaged more than 100 million viewers, taking a big leap from the previous record of 98.7 million who watched last year's telecast.
The Super Bowl averaged a 45.0 rating/68 share on Sunday (Feb. 7) night, up 7 percent from the 42.0/64 for last year's thriller between Pittsburgh and Arizona. In fact, in terms of ratings, which was the highest rated Super Bowl since the 1996 game between the Cowboys and Steelers drew a 46.0/68.
The Super Bowl was seen in-all-or-part (a ridiculous measurement requiring six minutes of viewership or more) by 153.4 million viewers, breaking the Super Bowl record set last year with 151.6 million viewers.