This guy was part of the 111.3 million.

Yawn, right? Another year, another Super Bowl that had really, really incredibly amazing ratings. This is barely a blip on your news radar, and you’re tempted to roll back over in bed while that Super Bowl hangover continues to subside.

And I’m here to tell you that this is worth your time, because the Super Bowl setting the record as the most-watched television show in U.S. history for the third consecutive year is kind of a big deal.

First, here’s the breakdown:

  • An estimated 111.3 million people watched last night, according to the Nielson ratings, which narrowly beats the 111 million who saw the Packers beat Pittsburgh last year.
  • The close game kept viewers engaged, and kept more rolling in. The last half hour of NBC’s broadcast topped out at 117.7 million when Mario Manningham made his improbable catch.
  • The last three Super Bowls join M*A*S*H as the only shows to draw over 100 million eyeballs in American television history.

The ratings this year were also significantly higher up here in the Great White North where 8.1 million people tuned in, which is a 12 percent increase over last year.

Again, the mere fact that a lot of people watched a really important and exciting football game isn’t shocking. That’s especially true after earlier this the power of Tebow led to regular-season ratings that eclipsed the ratings for the final game in the most recent championship series for the other three major North American sports. That Tebow game in late December between the Broncos and Patriots also topped the average rating for the Red Sox’s curse-breaking World Series win in 2004.

And all that still doesn’t minimize what was accomplished last night. We’re nearly one year removed from the beginning of a lockout that rigidly divided players and owners, but more importantly, it created a gap between fans and the game. The paying customers were angry about the mere threat of a product they love being ripped from their television sets, and in vein they threatened a blackout.

Sunday’s ratings prove once again that the NFL and the Super Bowl are impenetrable, and in North American sports there’s nothing that even remotely compares to the spectacle of the big game in early February, and the vast audience it’s able to draw.

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