LAS VEGAS - Super Bowl 2024 was the most-watched program in U.S. television history since the 1969 moon landing.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ 25-22 overtime victory over San Francisco on Sunday night averaged 123.4 million viewers across both television and streaming platforms, according to data shared by Nielsen and Adobe Analytics. That number topped last year's viewership numbers of 115.1 million for Kansas City's last-play victory over Philadelphia – and is a 7% increase.
Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs and Taylor Swift react as they see Mecole Hardman Jr. #12 of the Kansas City Chiefs following the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadi
Sunday’s viewership puts it just behind the historic Apollo 11 landing on the moon, when an estimated 125 million viewers watched humans set foot on the lunar surface.
The big game was televised by CBS, Nickelodeon and Univision and streamed on Paramount+ as well as the NFL's digital platforms.
Nielsen also said a record 202.4 million watched at least part of the game across all networks, a 10% jump over last year's figure of 183.6 million.
The CBS broadcast averaged 120 million. The network's previous mark for its most-watched Super Bowl was 112.34 million for the 2016 game between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers.
A change in how viewers are counted, and Taylor Swift
Experts say some of the increase can be attributed to a change in the way viewers are counted.
Nielsen began including out-of-home viewers, such as watching TV at a bar with friends, at the airport, or even at the gym, in its ratings in 2020 – but only from limited markets.
That measurement expanded to all 50 states beginning this year.
Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs and Taylor Swift embrace after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in overtime during Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium on February 11, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, this year’s Super Bowl also had the added effect of pop superstar Taylor Swift, who is dating Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and garnered coverage while attending games throughout the season.
The couple’s romance likely influenced some "Swifties" – or her loyal fans – to become NFL fans, too.
2024 was the second straight year the Super Bowl averaged more than 100 million viewers after a period where four of the five games before 2023 had fallen short of that number because of cord-cutting. That included 95.2 million for the 2021 Super Bowl between Tampa Bay and Kansas City, which was the game’s lowest TV-only average since 2007.
Univision averaged more than 2.2 million viewers, the highest Super Bowl viewership on record for a Spanish-language network. The Super Bowl has been televised in Spanish in the United States since 2014.
The NFL playoffs averaged 38.5 million viewers the first three weekends, a 9% increase over last year.
That followed a regular season that averaged 17.9 million, tied for the second highest since averages were first tracked in 1995.
Super Bowl 2024 goes into overtime
The Kansas City Chiefs sent it to overtime on Harrison Butker's field goal. After the 49ers kicked a field goal on the opening possession of OT, the Chiefs won when Patrick Mahomes threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman.
Sunday's game was only the second of the 58 Super Bowls to go to overtime.
The previous one was in 2017, when New England rallied from a 28-3 deficit and beat Atlanta 34-28.
"I was managing my expectations, but I had a bit of hope that it would happen," CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said of overtime, which was set up when San Francisco kicker Jake Moody had an extra point blocked in the fourth quarter, which kept it a three-point game. "I can’t imagine a Super Bowl any better or more exciting than this."
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.