Super Bowl 50 Ratings: Down vs. Last Year, But Third-Most-Watched Program Ever

Michael Schneider
Peyton Manning, Super Bowl 50
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Omaha! Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 in front of an average 111.9 million viewers, according to CBS estimates.

That makes it the third-most watched program in TV history, but a touch below last year's record Super Bowl audience of 114.4 million viewers. (It was also down from 2014's 112.2 million viewers).

Super Bowl 50 peaked at 8:30/7:30c, when 115.5 million viewers were watching.

According to the network, its live stream drew 3.96 million unique viewers across laptops, desktops, tablets, connected TV devices and mobile phones.

After the Super Bowl, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert registered 21.2 million viewers and a 7.9 rating among adults 18-49, giving the show its largest audience ever and its best rating in the demo since David Letterman premiered on August 30, 1993.

Late Show, which aired from 10:54/9:54c to 12:02/11:02c, was down vs. last year's lead-out (NBC's The Blacklist), which averaged 25.7 million. It was up, however, against CBS' last Super Bowl in 2013, when Elementary averaged 20.8 million.

From 12:37/11:37c to 1:33/12:33c, The Late Late Show with James Corden averaged 5 million viewers and a 1.7 rating with adults 18-49. That's the largest audience for The Late Late Show since it launched in 1995. It didn't match last year's post-Super Bowl, post-news late night talk show (Tonight Show, at 9.8 million), but was up from Craig Ferguson's Late Late Show episode after the Super Bowl in 2013 (4.4 million).

EARLIER: Full nationwide ratings will be available later today, but last night's Super Bowl was gigantic, as expected, in Nielsen's metered markets (which includes 56 of the nation's largest metro areas).

Super Bowl 50 averaged a 49 rating (percentage of overall Nielsen homes) and 73 share (percentage of homes watching TV) on Sunday night, off a tick from last year's 49.7 rating (the New England/Seattle matchup that ended with a Patriots last-minute victory).

super bowl 50, denver broncos, touchdown

GettyImages

Denver Broncos

This year's game, which featured the Denver Broncos winning 24 over the Carolina Panthers' 10, was not considered a great game--but it was still the second-best ever in the metered markets. Among recent games, that number was still higher than 2014 (46.4), 2013 (48.1), 2012 (47.8) and 2011 (47.9).

It's a reminder that for a massive event like the Super Bowl, the play on the field doesn't have a huge impact on the actual ratings.

Last year's game also broke a viewership record, averaging 114.4 million viewers. We'll see how this year's Super Bowl compares later today.

Meanwhile, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" averaged an 11.2 rating and 21 share in the metered markets, from 11/10c to Midnight/11c. That's down from last year's post-Super Bowl show (NBC's The Blacklist, at 13.5/24) and down from CBS' Elementary (12.0/21) in 2013. Nonetheless, it's an all-time high for the new Colbert show.

From 12:30/11:30c to 1:45/12:45c, The Late Late Show with James Corden averaged a 3.5/10, which is the highest ever metered rating for any Late Late Show broadcast since it began in 1995.

According to CBS, Super Bowl 50 household viewership peaked at 10/9c in the metered markets. Here's how the game broke out:

6:45-7:00 – 44.6/70
7:00-7:30 – 47.3/73
7:30-8:00 – 48.6/73
8:00-8:30 – 49.8/74
8:30-9:00 – 49.9/73
9:00-9:30 – 49.6/72
9:30-10:00 – 49.9/71
10:00-10:15 – 51.0/73