SVU, Full House and Doc McStuffins: Here’s What People Were Watching Instead of the Super Bowl

Downton Abbey
Nick Briggs/PBS
Downton Abbey

(Updated Feb. 4, 11am ET) Sunday night’s Super Bowl XLIX broke a record as the most-watched U.S. TV telecast in history, averaging 114.4 million viewers from 6:31 p.m. to 10:10 p.m. But don’t forget, there are 316.1 million people living in the United States — so a good chunk of them weren’t watching the Big Game.

Of course, many of those people were probably working or had commitments elsewhere. But among people actually watching TV, the Super Bowl posted a 73 share of the audience. What about the 27 percent of people who were at home, watching TV, but not the Super Bowl? What were they watching, and why did they consciously opt not to be a part of the national conversation?

We looked up the list of shows that attracted more than 500,000 viewers while the Super Bowl was on. In an age of hundreds of channels, there were plenty of alternatives to the Game — and this isn’t even counting Netflix or DVR usage.

Some of the choices make sense, particularly kids’ shows like Disney’s K.C. Undercover and Nick at Nite’s Full House reruns, which remain inexplicably popular with teens. TBS and FX also stuck with animated movies, targeted to kids not watching the game.

Univision also did well, targeting Spanish-speaking viewers who might not be interested in football. And “shelter” shows on channels like HGTV, perhaps appealed to the non-Super Bowl crowd, as did procedurals like Law & Order: SVU, which are like potato chips at a party: Once you watch one, you just keep on watching…and suddenly you miss the Super Bowl.

Of course, PBS’ Downton Abbey was one of the few TV hits to brave the Super Bowl waters, as it does every year, and air an original episode. (Showtime’s Shameless also did the same, and was rewarded with 1.3 million viewers.) The show was once again No. 2 at 9 p.m., second only to the big game, with 6.4 million viewers.

Take this ranker with a grain of salt: Shows listed here include averages from the West Coast, where the Super Bowl aired much earlier (3:31 p.m. to 8:10 p.m.). And these are “live plus same day” ratings, which means some shows (Shameless and Downton, I’m looking at you two) probably benefited greatly from DVR usage later in the evening, up until 2am.

So with those caveats, that means the shows that aired at 7pm posted the most impressive results, because they ran opposite the Super Bowl on both coasts. (Good on you, 60 Minutes Presents, America’s Funniest Home Videos and Aqui y Ahora!)

But nonetheless, here were the most-watched non-Super Bowl primetime telecasts on Sunday, February 1.

Downton Abbey (PBS, 9pm) 6.4 million

Criminal Minds (CBS, 10pm) 4.2 million

Shark Tank (ABC, 10pm) 3.2 million

Nuestra Belleza Latina (Univision, 8pm) 3.2 million

CSI (CBS, 9pm) 3 million

60 Minutes Presents (CBS, 7pm) 2.8 million

NCIS (CBS, 8pm) 2.8 million

America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC, 8pm) 2.5 million

America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC, 7pm) 2.4 million

Shark Tank (ABC, 9pm) 2.0 million

High School Musical 3 (Disney, 7:30pm) 1.8 million

The Simpsons (Fox, 8pm) 1.7 million

Aqui y Ahora (Univision, 7pm) 1.6 million

Girl Meets World (Disney, 10pm) 1.5 million

Bob’s Burgers (Adult Swim, 10pm) 1.4 million

K.C. Undercover (Disney, 9:30 pm) 1.4 million

The Simpsons (Fox, 7:30 pm) 1.3 million

Shameless (Showtime, 9pm) 1.3 million

Worst Cooks 6 (Food Network, 10pm) 1.3 million

Family Guy (Fox, 9pm) 1.2 million

Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 9:30 pm) 1.2 million

Alaskan Bush People (Discovery, 9pm) 1.1 million

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox, 8:30 pm) 995,000

Law & Order: SVU (USA, 10pm) 976,000

Law & Order: SVU (USA, 8pm) 963,000

Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 7pm) 951,000

TBS Prime Movie: “Shrek 2” (TBS, 8pm) 950,000

Law & Order: SVU (USA, 9pm) 918,000

Island Life (HGTV, 10pm) 888,000

Law & Order: SVU (USA, 7pm) 843,000

Walking Dead (AMC, 10pm) 782,000

King of the Hill (Adult Swim, 9pm) 780,000

Bob’s Burgers (Adult Swim, 9:30pm) 775,000

Full House (Nick at Nite, 8pm) 759,000

Criminal Minds (A&E, 7pm) 736,000

Cine Nuestro: “El Embustero” (Telemundo, 7pm) 734,000

Full House (Nick at Nite, 9:30pm) 726,000

King of the Hill (Adult Swim, 8pm) 718,000

FX Movie Prime: “How to Train Your Dragon” (FX, 8pm) 715,000

Sex Sent Me to the ER (TLC, 10pm) 713,000

Fresh Prince of Bel Air (Nick at Nite, 10pm) 713,000

Beachfront Bargain Hunt (HGTV, 8:30pm) 708,000

Full House (Nick at Nite, 9pm) 708,000

Full House (Nick at Nite, 8:30pm) 704,000

Caribbean Life (HGTV, 9:30pm) 702,000

Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo, 10pm) 695,000

Caribbean Life (HGTV, 9pm) 694,000

TNT Big Picture Movie: “The Help” (TNT, 8pm) 682,000

Property Brothers (HGTV, 7pm) 673,000

Doc McStuffins (Disney Junior, 7:30pm) 670,000

Alaskan Bush People (Discovery, 8pm) 664,000

Wives with Knives (ID, 10pm) 663,000

Criminal Minds (A&E, 10pm) 640,000

Sunday Movie: “Back to the Future” (ABC Family, 7pm) 634,000

TBS Prime Movie: “Shrek” (TBS, 6pm) 625,000

Sofia the First (Disney Junior, 8pm) 610,000

Beachfront Bargain Hunt (HGTV, 8pm) 605,000

Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo, 9pm) 565,000

Alaskan Bush People (Discovery, 7pm) 560,000

Criminal Minds (A&E, 9pm) 599,000

Columbo (MeTV, 8pm) 592,000

One De Las Estrella: “Terminator: Salvation” (UniMas, 7pm) 592,000

Worst Cooks 6 (Food Network, 9pm) 551,000

Criminal Minds (A&E, 8pm) 548,000

Sunday Movie: “Beautiful & Twisted” (Lifetime, 9pm) 547,000

Jake and the Neverland Pirates (Disney Junior, 7:15pm) 546,000

Walking Dead (AMC, 9pm) 544,000

Cops (Spike, 10pm) 540,000

Sunday Movie (Lifetime, 7pm) 538,000

Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo, 8pm) 526,000

Walking Dead (AMC, 7pm) 517,000