Not even a 34-minute power outage in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome could prevent Super Bowl XLVII from setting a new ratings record.
According to CBS Sports Public Relations (via Twitter), the showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers delivered a huge metered-market overnight rating.
Super Rating on CBS…Super Bowl XLVII delivers highest-ever metered market rating with a 48.1/71, as Ravens top Niners 34-31.— CBS Sports PR(@CBSSportsGang) February 4, 2013
For the sake of comparison (via the LA Times), the Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers did a 47.9 rating in 2011 and the New York Giants vs. New England Patriots did a 48.1 rating last year.
The article also mentions that only three television broadcasts in history have ever received more than 100 million viewers: Those two Super Bowls and the series finale of MASH in 1983.
The Ravens' victory over the 49ers is sure to join—and top—that exclusive list once the final numbers are tallied. Judging purely off the rating, though, Super Bowl XLVII is not technically No. 1 in NFL history.
Measuring the percentages of televisions tuned into a specific program, Super Bowl XVI between the 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals drew a 49.1 rating (via the Huffington Post). But because the number of people who own television sets has dramatically increased in the last 30 years, the rating percentage point is going to equal more overall viewers today than it did back then.
There are several theories that can explain the Super Bowl's sudden resurgence with the American viewing public.
The first, and most obvious, is because the big game is improving every year. The NFL has turned this football game into an mega-event, complete with entertaining commercials and a halftime show featuring Beyonce—one of the biggest names in the music industry.
What is your theory for why the Super Bowl set a new ratings record?
The second theory is that some of the storylines leading up to the game made it hard not to watch. Among those were the Ray Lewis retirement tour making its final stop in New Orleans and the Harbaugh brothers squaring off.
Then there was the whole issue of the power going out in the Superdome. It got everyone and their brother talking about what the heck was going on and when the game would resume.
Finally, the game itself made for dramatic television. A near-comeback from the 49ers halted by a Ravens goal-line stand in the final two minutes kept fans nationwide on the edge of their seats.
All of those factors likely played a role in making Ravens vs. 49ers the most-watched Super Bowl ever.