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From Super Bowl LVIII to the moon landing, here are TV's most-watched broadcasts

Top trends from Super Bowl LVIII
Top trends from Super Bowl LVIII 06:04

In a rundown of the most-watched broadcasts in history, Super Bowl games make up nearly all of the top 30. 

More people watched the Kansas City Chiefs win their second straight Super Bowl than have watched the big game in any previous year, with Taylor Swift and Usher bringing their fans to help drive record ratings for the 2024 NFL championship. 

But the big game's viewership still pales in comparison to a TV event that took place more than a half century ago: The Apollo 11 moon landing, as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to step foot on the lunar surface.

Super Bowl LVIII becomes most watched Super Bowl ever 00:48

How many people watched the Super Bowl?

CBS Sports coverage of Super Bowl LVIII brought in an estimated 123.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. The TV broadcast averaged 120.3 million viewers on CBS alone, "making it the largest audience for a single-network telecast to date," Nielsen said Tuesday in a news release.

How many people watched the Apollo 11 moon landing?

After a four-day trip to reach the moon, the Lunar Module landed on July 20, 1969. According to the National Air and Space Museum, among other sources, an estimated 650 million people around the globe watched as Armstrong proclaimed, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." An estimated 125 million to 150 million Americans watched the astronauts set foot on the moon, according to multiple published reports

Other non-Super Bowl events that drew massive TV audiences include Richard Nixon's resignation as U.S. president on Aug. 8, 1974, after the Watergate scandal. The 16-minute Oval Office address reportedly had 110 million people glued to their screens. 

The final episode of the television show M*A*S*H, starring Alan Alda, aired on Feb. 28, 1983, and had 105.9 million viewers, or an estimated 60% of U.S. households tuning their TV channels to CBS. 

NASA prepares for historic commercial trip to the moon 04:07

How do 2024 Super Bowl ratings compare to previous years?

Last year's Super Bowl was previously the most watched ever after Nielsen adjusted its figures by 2.1 million, saying that 115.1 million people tuned in, according to a statement by Fox Sports, which broadcast the game. The updated count was higher than the 101.5 million viewers in 2022, and moved Super Bowl LVII above Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 which had 114.8 million folks watching. 

The Taylor Swift effect and the halftime show

Twenty percent of those surveyed by market research firm Numerator said they were rooting for Travis Kelce because of his relationship with Taylor Swift. A majority, or 82% of Super Bowl watchers viewed the halftime show, and 71% tuned in for the fourth quarter.

Shaheem Sanchez, Deaf ASL performer, shines at Super Bowl halftime show 03:34

Top social media posts

The top post on social media came from Beyoncé, with the singer driving over 1.3 million engagements on Instagram during the game — which ran from 7 p.m. until midnight — with her "break the internet" Verizon Ad, according to Comscore. Coming in second, was a post from Sportscenter showing Kelce's angry reaction over a fumble in which he appears to yell at Kansas City Chiefs Coach Andy Reid, which drew more than 340,000 engagements. A post from the NFL showing celebrities at the game placed third with 294,000 viewers.

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