NEW YORK — With a partial power outage, an overly excited quarterback and a game that suddenly turned from snoozer to sizzler, CBS had its hands full at the Super Bowl. The game fell short of setting a viewership record, but it stands as the third most-watched program in U.S. television history.
The Nielsen Co. said an estimated 108.4 million people watched the Baltimore Ravens’ 34-31 victory over the 49ers. The most-watched events in U.S. TV history were last year’s game, seen by 111.3 million, and the 2010 game, with 111 million viewers.
CBS had hoped to make it the fourth year in a row that football’s ultimate game broke the record for most-watched event in American television history. But pro football ratings in general have been down slightly this year.
CBS’ ratings immediately dipped by two full ratings points in the overnight measurement of big cities when the lights went out in the second half.
When the lights returned, so did the 49ers. They quickly jumped back in the game and CBS’ audience, no doubt fueled by social media chatter, came back, too. CBS was blessed with the dream of every network that telecasts the Super Bowl: a game that isn’t decided until the final play.
The power outage was an immediate hot topic for quips and questions online. There were an estimated 47.7 million social media posts during the game, according to the company Trendrr TV, which tracks activity on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. That compares with 17 million during last year’s game and 3 million in 2010, Trendrr said.
Baltimore had the highest rating of any individual city, Nielsen said. San Francisco was not among the top 10 cities in ratings.