TiVo, which has been tracking must-see Super Bowl moments and advertisements for a decade, has released its report on what viewers actually watched on Sunday.

For those few who think televising the Super Bowl is primarily about football, it will be gratifying to learn that the most watched moment of the entire broadcast was Tom Brady’s “Hail Mary” throw into the end zone in the final seconds of the game between New York Giants and New England Patriots.

Other than that, however, entertainment ruled the day, as can easily be seen on the chart below. The half-time show featuring Madonna – along with Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., Cirque du Soleil, LMFAO and Cee Lo Green – was the second-most watched part of the Super Bowl. TiVo found that 15.7 percent more people watched half-time than watched the game itself, some of whom undoubtedly replayed it to see what all the fuss was about M.I.A.’s fleetingly raised middle finger salute to the cameras. The same viewership pattern emerged last year, but the 2011 increase in viewership was 8 percent, much less of a jump but a noticeable jump nonetheless.

The best of the advertisements also count as entertainment of course, with Doritos’ “Man’s Best Friend” in the top slot and its “Sling Baby” in third place, separated by M&M’s “Ms. Brown” in second place.

“The brands with the top three most watched commercials did not preview their commercials online, proving traditional television debuts of commercials still holds value to rise to the top,” said TiVo’s Tara Maitra, senior vice president & general manager, Content and Media Sales.

It will be up to advertisers themselves to determine whether gaining pre-game online buzz outweighs being the most watched ad during the Super Bowl, however.


TiVo’s Super Bowl analysis was prepared using aggregated, anonymous, second-by-second audience measurement data of the TiVo audience watching in “play” speed. The most engaging ads are determined by looking for spots with the biggest bump in viewership relative to the surrounding 15 minutes of programming, which according to TiVo offers a true reflection of change in viewership.

“TiVo’s second-by-second audience research rankings of commercials provides an exclusive picture of viewer engagement during exact moments that resonate the most. This critical point of difference allows us to highlight the true measurement of engagement from specific advertising spots, the halftime entertainment, or highlights from the game-offering a precise look at just what matters to the viewer,” Maitra said.

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