September 22, 2020

Media Decoder: Blackout Is a Boon for Super Bowl Ratings

A timely blackout that provided both a diversion and a change in momentum for what looked like a one-sided game helped CBS to record the third most-watched event in television history for Super Bowl XLVII.

The game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers attracted an average audience of 108.4 million viewers. That was down slightly from the 111.3 million who watched the game last February, and the 111 million from the previous year.

Initial ratings from the country’s biggest cities seemed to point to an even larger audience than last year, but the final national numbers indicated there may have been slightly less interest in this matchup than in New York vs. New England last year.

One thing that did seem to help was the power failure, which occurred 90 seconds into the second half and knocked out the lights on one side of the stadium. With the game looking like a rout — Baltimore had just scored to go ahead 28-6 – the possibility loomed that a significant number of viewers would tune out. But the blackout stirred a torrent of comment on social media, and the break in the action may have led to a change in momentum as the 49ers staged a furious rally that produced a close and thrilling finish.

Certainly the interest in the game did not flag because of the blackout. The last 17 minutes of the game were the most viewed, with a total of 113.9 million viewers.

Before the game, there had been predictions that this year’s contest might see a decline in viewers for the first time in years. The conference playoff games this season were down significantly from last season, with the prime-time A.F.C. game dropping by about 10 million viewers compared with the N.F.C. game in prime time last season.

With a one-sided game, the same level of drop-off might have been possible. Instead CBS was able to maintain about 97 percent of last year’s record-setting audience.

The delayed finish of the game also meant that virtually all of the action fell into the prime-time hours — which likely enhanced the ratings somewhat. On the other hand, it meant that the entertainment show CBS had scheduled to follow the game, its new drama “Elementary,” fell entirely out of prime time in the East and Central time zones.

So its ratings won’t even count on CBS’s prime-time record. “Elementary” did manage to attract 20.8 million viewers, despite its late start. That was not the worst performance in recent years for a show placed behind the Super Bowl. Since 1992, that honor still belongs to an episode of “Alias” on ABC in 2003, which was also delayed past 11 p.m. in the East and drew only 17.3 million viewers.

But “Elementary” did score the worst post-Super Bowl ratings since 1992 for the groups that advertisers most seek to reach, viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 and 25 and 54. Its numbers there were still good by any current standard, however, with a 7.8 and an 8.3 rating, respectively.

Those numbers were down considerably from last season when NBC ran the premiere of a new season of “The Voice” and scored a 16.3 and a 16.4 rating in those two audience groups, with a total audience of 37.6 million viewers.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/blackout-is-a-boon-for-super-bowl-ratings/?partner=rss&emc=rss

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