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Super Ratings For Super Bowl: 111 Million, A Record

The Super Bowl was the most-watched TV show in American history — again.

It's the second year in a row that pro football's title match set a viewership record.

The Nielsen Co.'s day-after estimate had 111 million people watching the Green Bay Packers outlast the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. That tops the 106.5 million who watched the 2010 game between New Orleans and Indianapolis.

Before last year, the series finale of M*A*S*Hheld the title of the most-watched U.S. TV show for 27 years. With 106 million viewers, Radar, Hawkeye and Co. now sit at No. 3, just ahead of two more Super Bowls.

This year's game had some serious storyline firepower at hand: two iconic franchises, two contrasting quarterbacks (the Packers' up-and-coming Aaron Rodgers vs. the Steelers' once-embattled Ben Roethlisberger), even a bit of weather drama (six workers were injured by ice falling off the stadium roof after a rare North Texas snowstorm).

And despite Green Bay's early 21-3 lead, it all came down to the final minute. In fact, the most-watched single play of the game was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's game-deciding incomplete pass to Mike Wallace with about a minute to go, according to measurements by TiVo Inc., the digital video recorder maker.

Television ratings in general have been super for the NFL this year, with viewership up 13 percent over last year, Nielsen said. Games on CBS, Fox and NBC averaged 20 million viewers, more than twice what networks get for their prime-time programming.

"Super Bowl XLV caps what is arguably the most successful season that any sports league has ever had," said Pat McDonough, senior vice president for insight and analysis at the Nielsen Co. "The number of people watching NFL games has never been higher, with 24 percent more people watching the average NFL game this year than just five years ago. The Super Bowl continues to be in a category of its own."

Fox's Glee took advantage of the time slot directly after the game, reaching 26.8 million viewers for its special episode. That was the show's highest rating ever, making it the most-watched scripted entertainment program in three years.

TiVo also crowned the Snickers commercial featuring Richard Lewis and Roseanne Barr as the top-rated commercial of the telecast. The company determines that through a calculation that takes in viewership and how many times people rewind their DVRs to watch the ad.

Second place was Best Buy's ad with Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne.

People were much less likely to stop the game to repeat the ads in the second half, when the football action was compelling, said Tara Maitra, TiVo's vice president and general manager for audience research and advertising sales. No beer ads made TiVo's top 10-rated ads for the game.

The average Super Bowl viewer with a DVR either paused, rewound or fast-forwarded 145 times during the game, TiVo reported.

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The Associated Press