The Sunday, February 6 broadcast of Super Bowl XLV was the most-watched program in U.S. television history. Nielsen counted that 111 million viewers tuned in to the game between Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Its following program "Glee" unfortunately did not score as well as expected.
More detailed records noted that the game hit its peak between 9:30 P.M. and 10 P.M. ET with 117.2 million viewers. The audience dipped during the Black Eyed Peas' halftime performance at 110.2 million viewers from 8 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. At 111 million, Super Bowl XLV beat last year's game which averaged 106 million people and the series finale of "M*A*S*H" which absorbed 106 million and held the record from 1983 to 2010.
The huge number however did not deliver a grand number for "Glee" which has to beat people's urge to sleep at 10.30 P.M. Around 26.8 million viewers were hooked up to the screen to watch the show's most expensive production. To the show itself, it was a rating record but to a post-Super Bowl program it's a decline.
Last year, CBS scored a strong number for the series premiere of "Undercover Boss" with 38.7 million. Post-game ratings peaked in 1996 for an episode of NBC's "Friends" that drew a surprising 52.9 million, followed by CBS' premiere of "Survivor: The Australian Outback" that averaged 45 million in 2001.
"Glee" nevertheless is the top-rated scripted telecast of any TV show in three years. Its second high-rated episode was when it returned from the four-month hiatus in April 2010 with 14 million viewers.