Likely due to errant play and the defensive slugfest nature of Super Bowl 50, including fumbles and interceptions, the game’s audience failed to surpass the ratings of the last two Super Bowls.
Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers drew a staggering average audience of 111.9 million viewers, but that still left it the third-most-watched television program in U.S. history, trailing Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots on NBC, which averaged 114.4 million viewers, and Super Bowl XLVIII, between the Broncos and Seahawks, which drew 112.2 million viewers. A full 72% of U.S. households watched the game.
At its peak, during the halftime show, Super Bowl 50 was watched by 115.5 million viewers. According to CBS, an average of 1.4 million viewers and 3.96 million unique visitors watched the game as it streamed on various devices. The closeness of the score of the Super Bowl seemingly has little effect on the number of viewers, as Super Bowl XLVIII, which the Seahawks won 43-8, set a record for the largest audience in TV history at the time.
Recent ratings for the Super Bowl look like this:
2015: 49.7 rating, 114.4 million viewers
2014: 46.4 rating, 112.2 million viewers
2013: 48.1 rating, 108.4 million viewers
2012: 47.8 rating, 111.3 million viewers
2011: 47.9 rating, 111 million viewers
The defensive struggle or possibly simple sloppiness of the game contributed to seven fumbles, four by the Panthers and three from the Broncos. The teams combined four fourteen punts. The Broncos compiled the fewest yards for any Super Bowl winner. Each quarterback threw an interception, but the real story came from the 12 sacks recorded in the game, seven by the Broncos and five by the Panthers. If you like defense, you likely kept the television on.