Super Bowl TV Ratings Tie for Highest Ever

Sunday night’s Super Bowl between two old-line National Football League powerhouses, the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, tied for the highest-rated championship game ever watched on TV, according to ratings released by FOX.

The Packers won the game 31-25 in a battle that went down to the final minute.

FOX, which aired the game, said ratings climbed dramatically throughout the day, which is typical for Super Bowl audiences.

The game earned a 47.9 market rating in 56 metered U.S. markets, an increase of 3% over last year’s game between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts, which aired on CBS (NYSE:CBS).

A ratings point is a percentage of U.S. television households that watched the program.

The increase over a year ago allowed last night’s game to earn a tie with Super Bowl XXI in 1987 between the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos.

Still, last year’s Super Bowl, with 106.5 million viewers, broke a record as the most watched event in U.S. television history, surpassing the final episode of ‘M*A*S*H’, which aired in 1983.

Research firm Nielsen will release national ratings and viewer numbers for the game later Monday.

This year's Super Bowl scored a 59.7 overnight rating in the Pittsburgh and Milwaukee hometown markets, tied for the second-highest rating in a single market in Super Bowl history behind the 63 in Chicago for Super Bowl XX in 1986, FOX said.

In Dallas, the host market for this year's game, the overnight rating was 53.7, while it was 42.6 in New York, 40.1 in Los Angeles and 51.4 in Chicago, FOX said.

FOX is a unit of News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA), which is also the parent company of

Meanwhile, FOX's pre-game show notched a 13% gain over last year's warmup to the big game and the best overnight rating for a Super Bowl pre-game show in eight years, the company said.