TV Ratings: CBS’ Super Bowl LV Telecast Draws 96.4 Million Viewers, Sets Streaming Record

CBS’ multiplatform broadcast of Super Bowl LV fell below the 100 million viewer threshold but set a record for streaming viewing on Sunday, according to Nielsen Live+Same Day fast affiliate ratings.

CBS averaged 96.4 million viewers who watched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers outscore the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9. The network not only ran the 2021 NFL championship game, but also all national ads, the halftime show featuring the Weeknd, and pre and postgame coverage. CBS said the game drew an average minute audience of 5.7 million viewers on streaming platforms.

Despite the rise in streaming numbers, viewership was down more than 5% from last year. The 2020 battle for the Vince Lombardi trophy between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco drew 102 million total viewers across Fox and all of its platforms.

For more comparison, 2019’s matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams on CBS averaged approximately 98.2 million viewers on the network alone— the Super Bowl’s lowest viewership total since 2008— and 100.7 million across all CBS platforms. The 2018 Super Bowl between the Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles on NBC drew 103.4 million

This year’s game featured two small-market teams in Tampa Bay and Kansas City, but also two of the league’s biggest stars in Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. But CBS was not helped by the dismal on-field action, which saw the Bucs take the lead in the late first quarter and widen it consistently as the game went on, the Chiefs undoing themselves with defensive penalties and uncharacteristically sloppy offensive play. The 22-point margin of victory was the largest for a Super Bowl in 18 years.

Airing immediately after the game, the series premiere of “The Equalizer” starring Queen Latifah averaged 20.4 million total viewers, down 16% from what Fox drew to the Season 3 premiere of “The Masked Singer” following last year’s Super Bowl. “The Equalizer” drew a 5.1 rating in the 18-49 demo. The reboot of the classic TV action drama was the highest rated entertainment program since 2020’s Academy Awards telecast.


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