Super Bowl ratings down slightly from last year's game

NRG Stadium
This year's Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons took place at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Super Bowl LI drew just slightly less of an audience than last year’s game.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sunday’s game, which saw the New England Patriots come back from a 25-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons, recorded a 48.8 overnight rating. That’s only slightly down from the 49 overnight of last year’s Super Bowl.

The game averaged 111.9 million viewers, down from the Patriots’ previous Super Bowl appearance in 2015, which averaged 114.5 million, according to the report.

Despite Super Bowl LI making history as the first Super Bowl to go into overtime, the ratings didn’t necessarily reflect the moment. On the other hand, even relatively flat ratings for the Super Bowl could be viewed as good news as the NFL has endured consistently slumping ratings during the 2016 season.

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Though ratings bounced back some in the back half of the season—leading NFL viewership to be down 7% on a two year basis according to analyst firm MoffettNathanson—the first half of the season was affected year-over-year by a contentious presidential campaign and the sudden dry-up of fantasy football service advertising.

While the Super Bowl game itself featured a historic comeback and an overtime first, the Halftime Show may have eclipsed viewership of the contest. According to TiVo, Lady Gaga’s halftime performance generated 41,000 tweets per minute, and according to the company’s data, ranked third of all time, right behind 2012’s performance by Madonna and 2015’s halftime show featuring Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz.

TiVo said the most engaging in-game moments all came in the final 30 minutes of the game, with James White’s overtime touchdown sealing the victory driving the most engagement.

This year, it was Fox’s turn to broadcast the Super Bowl and the boost for the broadcaster came amid reports that Fox is seeing the best return among its rivals in terms of NFL costs versus viewership.

In terms of gross ratings points (GRPs), ESPN is paying $43 per thousand GRPs, while for the same reach, NBC pays $11, CBS pays $9 and Fox pays $8. According to MoffettNathanson, ESPN pays more than four times as much per viewer than the broadcasters for Monday Night Football.