60°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Super Bowl receives lowest number of viewers since 2009

PASADENA, Calif. — The New England Patriots’ competitive but action-starved Super Bowl victory over the Los Angeles Rams was seen by 100.7 million people on television and streaming services, the smallest audience for football’s annual spectacle in a decade.

A boycott by disgruntled New Orleans Saints fans, a campaign by fans of quarterback Colin Kaepernick and a game with only one touchdown combined to shrink the audience. On CBS alone, the game was seen by 98.2 million people, compared to 103.4 million who watched on NBC last year, according to the Nielsen company.

Since reaching a peak of 114.4 million viewers for the Patriots’ 2015 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the Super Bowl audience has slipped each year since. The Super Bowl is traditionally the most-watched television event of the year in the U.S., and its audience hadn’t dipped below 100 million since the Pittsburgh Steelers-Arizona Cardinals game in 2009.

CBS dealt with a city that held a major grudge. Many fans in New Orleans, where the hometown Saints were victimized by a blown referee’s call toward the end of its loss to the Rams in the NFC championship, skipped the game entirely. Preliminary ratings from New Orleans showed that Super Bowl viewership this year was half what it was in 2018.

New Orleans’ Times Picayune newspaper printed a mostly blank front page on Monday with the words, “Super Bowl?” What Super Bowl?”

The newspaper asked, “you think the NFL is sad that the Saints weren’t in it to spice up the night?”

There was also a campaign on Twitter by people who said they would not watch the game because of Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who hasn’t been able to land a job in the NFL since leading demonstrations in protest of police treatment of minorities.

After a season of offensive fireworks and conference championships that both went into overtime, Sunday’s game was a defensive struggle where the teams were tied 3-3 entering the fourth quarter. That’s a tough slog for the casual fan, and the Super Bowl draws millions who don’t watch football regularly.

At one point CBS commentator Tony Romo said, “this is hard to watch.” Others were blunter still. The website The Ringer said that “the historically boring Super Bowl sent football back to the Stone Age.”

Cindy Boren of The Washington Post wrote that it was “a snore of a Super Bowl.” The New York Times headlined a story: “How boring was the Super Bowl? The punts got exciting.”

The words “boring” and “Super Bowl” appeared in the same tweets more than 70,000 times in the past 24 hours. The words “worst” and “Super Bowl” were matched more than 50,000 times.

If anything, football fans have been spoiled by a string of competitive Super Bowls after many years in which big game blowouts became commonplace. This year the game’s outcome was in doubt until the final seconds, but it had only one touchdown and few scoring threats.

The one growth area for CBS was streaming. The network said an average of 2.6 million people streamed the game, up 31 percent over last year.

CBS did achieve its goal of having a large audience sample its new talent show, “The World’s Best.” Nielsen said 22.2 million people watched the show’s debut, the most-watched entertainment show since the Oscars last year and the biggest entertainment premiere on TV since “Undercover Boss” debuted after the Super Bowl nine years ago.

———

Associated Press reporter Eric Carvin in New York contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Super Bowl protest in New Orleans raises $57k for community

Thousands of people attended the city of New Orleans’ protest parties on Super Bowl Sunday, and many of those who attended a special fundraiser contributed more than $57,000 for a foundation that works to improve the community.

Rob Gronkowski hit by beer can during Super Bowl parade

Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots’ star tight end, says he got hit in the face by a can of beer thrown during Tuesday’s Super Bowl victory parade in Boston.

 
Huge crowds pack Boston streets for Patriots’ Super Bowl parade

A party atmosphere enveloped the city as fans clad in team garb packed sidewalks and stood on tiptoe for a glimpse of quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick and the rest of the team. Red, white and blue confetti rained down.

ALS patient dies in ‘freak accident’ on way to Super Bowl

A man with Lou Gehrig’s disease who dreamed of going to the Super Bowl secured tickets from a charity, but was killed when the minivan he was traveling in caught fire on the way to Atlanta.

Patriots’ McCourty twins say they won’t visit White House

New England Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said Monday he won’t go to the White House if the Super Bowl champions are invited by President Donald Trump, and teammate and twin brother Jason said he highly doubts he would make the trip.

Super Bowl handle of $145.9M falls short of Nevada record

A game that set a Super Bowl record for futility fell well short of setting a Nevada record for betting handle. The books won $10.7 million on the game, which was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever, for a 7.4 percent hold, or win percentage.

Adam Levine’s Super Bowl nipple reveal prompts backlash

First, critics panned Maroon 5’s Super Bowl halftime performance. Then social media folks went full-on snark over Adam Levine’s throw pillow-like tank top design. Then he peeled off the busy brown shirt and the snark turned to outrage over his exposed nipples.

Thousands join New Orleans’ Super Bowl boycott party

Still stinging from having a berth in Super Bowl LIII ripped away from them, thousands belonging to Who Dat Nation joined together Sunday in a sign of solidarity and boycotted the game turning, off televisions and partying like it was Fat Tuesday.