Super Bowl 2021 Ratings Drop to New Low of 96.4 Million

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The 2021 Super Bowl drew nearly 96.4 million total viewers on CBS and affiliate streaming services, per CBS. According to figures released Tuesday morning by CBS Sports, ratings for the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were down about 8% from last year’s big game, which reached 102 million total viewers on Fox.

Nielsen’s estimates are even lower than CBS’. According to the ratings agency, Super Bowl LV was watched by a TV audience of around 92 million people and earned a 38.2 U.S. household rating. This year, about 68% of U.S. homes with television tuned in to the big game, down one percent from last year.

Regardless of which ratings metric you choose, there’s no denying that Super Bowl LV saw a large dip in ratings from previous years. When all was said and done, this year’s game saw the smallest TV audience since 2006, and the smallest since the digital and streaming era began.

However, despite the ratings dropoff, the 2021 Super Bowl is still the most-watched program of the past 12 months, and the most live-streamed in history. According to CBS, 91.6 million viewers watched Super Bowl 2021 live on CBS. Digital platforms saw a 69% increase in Super Bowl viewership, with roughly 5 million of the game’s 96.4 million total viewers tuning in via streaming.

On the field, Super Bowl LV didn’t provide the thrills many fans had expected. Despite the highly-anticipated quarterback battle between Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs, the Chiefs repeatedly stumbled and dug themselves into a first-half hole due to a series of penalties. When all was said and done, Brady won his seventh Super Bowl ring with a 31-9 victory, the largest margin of loss in Mahomes’ career.

During the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show, the Weeknd kept the party going with a medley of his greatest hits, including “Starboy,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” and 2020 chart-topper “Blinding Lights.” The performance inspired countless memes, and served as one of the most entertaining aspects of the lackluster game.

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