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Super Bowl TV ratings drop 7 percent, hit nine-year low

By in Press Enterprise on February 5, 2018

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK — An estimated 103.4 million people watched the Super Bowl on NBC, a 7 percent drop from last year that indicates that television’s biggest event may have peaked in popularity.

The Nielsen company said it’s the smallest Super Bowl audience on television since 2009 despite the underdog Philadelphia Eagles beating the New England Patriots in a thrilling game that was close from start to finish.

Last year’s Patriots-Falcons game reached 111.3 million viewers. The all-time Super Bowl record — and record for any television event in the United States — was the 114.4 million who watched the Patriots against the Seahawks in 2015.

The NFL’s viewership has been down this year, with experts citing factors like increased injuries, some confusing rules changes and anger at players protesting police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem. Similarly, fewer people have cable than they did a few years ago, with streaming onto hand-held devices becoming more popular.

The dip was also telegraphed by a poll conducted last week by Seton Hall University, which found that 54 percent of Americans were preparing to watch the game. That’s down from the 68 percent that said the same thing two years ago, according to the poll, which wasn’t done in 2017. The poll has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

Despite that prediction, the poll’s director said he thought the game’s quality would lift the numbers beyond what was actually seen.

“If you turned the game on at any time to say, ‘I wonder what’s going on,’ or a friend texted you to say you should watch this, you’re going to watch and get hooked,” said Rick Gentile, director of the poll, also sponsored by the Sharkey Institute.

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