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Super Bowl XLVI Could Draw Record 115 Million Viewers: Horizon Media's Adgate

Last year, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV before a U.S. record average audience of 111 million (a 46.0 national rating), with 162.9 million tuning in some part of the action on Fox. (46.0 national rating)

Some, including Horizon Media senior vice president, director of research Brad Adgate, believe that record could fall on Feb. 5, when the New York Giants and New England Patriots battle in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.

He cites a number of factors behind his uptick pick for the rematch of Super Bowl XLII, when Eli Manning, Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck stomped out Bill Belichick, Randy Moss and Tom Brady's quest for 19-0 NFL perfection.
"You have the teams from the No. 1 and No. 7 DMAs. The last three times these teams played the largest margin of victory has been four points [the Nov. 6 regular-season matchup, Giants' 24-20]," he said. "The overall interest in the sport is a testament to the NFL's marketing prowess. There is a really good shot it will surpass 111 million."
Then, there are other considerations that could further stoke the Nielsen count. "It hasn't been a bad winter, but inclement weather wouldn't hurt," he said. To that end, the midwest has been hit with the worst storms of the winter.
While unfavorable conditions outside are more likely to keep people at home, it's the action inside Lucas Oil Stadium that will ultimately drive overall viewership. "The last few Super Bowls have been decided in the final minute. If it's another down-to-the wire Super Bowl, perhaps OT, I wouldn't be surprised if it hit 115 million," he said.
At that audience level, Super Bowl XLVI would score an 18% bang above the 97.4 million who saw the Giants reign over the Pats in Super Bowl XLII.
Considering TV's continued audience fragmentation, that prompted a reaction worthy of Leonard Nimoy or Jim Parsons from Adgate: "Fascinating."