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New Nielsen Study for NFL Finds 208 Million Watched Super Bowl LVI

Los Angeles Rams vs Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI
Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams makes a catch over Mike Hilton of the Cincinnati Bengals during Super Bowl LVI. (Image credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The National Football League and Nielsen said that a new study they collaborated on estimates that more than 208 million people watched Super Bowl LVI, a number 25% higher than the 167 million unique viewers who watched at least one minute of the  game based on Nielsen’s previous report.

The new study was designed to better understand how many people watched the big game in group settings, Nielsen and the NFL said.

The new number would indicate that two-thirds of the entire population of the U.S. watched the game on February 13.

Also: Analysis: Super Bowl Could Kick Off Media Measurement Multiverse Mess

A custom survey of 6,600 households, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago using the AmeriSpeak panel, examined the size of viewing groups at any location and to what extent those groups are larger than that which is measured today.

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“While it’s no secret that the Super Bowl is the biggest event across the media landscape on a yearly basis, the exact number of people watching the game has been challenging to pinpoint given the fact that people tend to gather in groups to watch the game,“ NFL chief data and analytics officer Paul Ballew said. “We’re grateful for the work put into this custom survey by Nielsen, the results of which we feel provide the most accurate picture to date of the total viewership for this unique event.”

Nielsen normally measures out-of-home in locations such as bars and restaurants across about 65% of the United States and its co-viewing measurement covers groups of up to 16 people in households across the entire country. This viewing is included in Nielsen’s national ratings numbers.

“We recognize that the Super Bowl is a truly unique watching experience. While we are confident in our measurement which is the gold standard for the industry, we are always looking for ways to more strongly collaborate with our clients to better understand who may be watching, and how they may be watching,” said Jon Stainer, Nielsen sports managing director for the Americas. “We have worked closely with the NFL for years and performed other similar studies to better understand who may be tuning in to the largest TV event every year.” ■

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.