Super Bowl 2012: Most Watched in TV History

Sunday’s Super Bowl victory by the Giants over the Patriots on NBC drew a whopping 111.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen estimates, edging ahead of last year’s big game to become television’s most-watched telecast on record.

NBC also very successfully launched the second season of “The Voice,” which garnered 37.6 million with its special post-game premiere.

The game beat out viewership numbers for last year’s Green Bay-Pittsburgh Super Bowl on Fox in both adults 18-49 rating (40.5 vs. 39.9) and total viewers (111.3 million vs. 111.0 million). And compared to the previous Super Bowl pitting the Giants against the Patriots in 2008 on Fox, Sunday’s game outperformed it by 8% in 18-49 (40.5 vs. 37.5) and by 12% in total viewers (111.3 million vs. 97.4 million).

The household score for Sunday’s game (47.0 rating/71 share) grew 2% from last year’s 46.0/69 and is the best since the 1996 Super Bowl between Dallas and Pittsburgh (46.0/68 on NBC).

In Nielsen’s metered markets, the Giants’ 21-17 victory registered a 47.8 household rating/71 share – down a tick from last year’s 47.9/71 for Green Bay-Pittsburgh on Fox, which tied as the best ever for a Super Bowl. It did a 49.7/74 in New York, the second best for an NFL game in the country’s biggest market, and a 56.7/81 in Boston, the best ever for any football game. The overnight rating peaked with a 51.8/73 from 9:30 to 10 p.m. ET, when Eli Manning led the Giants to the game-winning touchdown in the closing minute.