Super Bowl LIII set streaming records, while TV viewership saw massive drop

Football fans didn’t tune into this year’s Super Bowl coverage on TV in as large numbers as in years past. According to Nielsen, the big game drew an average televised audience of around 98.2 million viewers. CBS, however, said the big game was watched across all platforms — including digital and streaming — by a combined total of 100.7 million viewers. In addition, the streaming coverage of the game broke new records this year, which helped to make up for the TV audience decline.

The network said the streamed event was watched across 7.5 million unique devices, up more than 20 percent from last year. Streaming viewers watched more than 560 million total hours of live game coverage, up more than 19 percent from 2017. And the average minute audience of 2.6 million viewers during the game window was up over 31 percent year-over-year.

The live stream’s record-breaking numbers were aided by the fact that the stream itself was available unauthenticated across, the CBS Sports app,, the NFL app and Verizon mobile properties — including Yahoo Sports, Yahoo, AOL, AOL Sports and Tumblr. (Disclosure: TechCrunch is owned by Verizon.)

The live stream was also made available on CBS’s subscription streaming service, CBS All Access, which saw a record number of new subscriber sign-ups, unique viewers and time spent on Super Bowl Sunday — following the service’s recent record-breaking weekend attributed to the Season 2 premiere of “Star Trek: Discovery” and the AFC Championship Game.

CBS All Access sign-ups were up 84+ percent on Super Bowl Sunday, while unique viewers were up more than 46 percent, and time spent was up more than 76 percent, CBS said.

Streaming, combined with TV viewers and CBS digital properties like CBS Interactive, NFL digital properties, Verizon Media mobile properties and ESPN Deportes TV and digital properties, brought the total audience to 100.7 million, as noted above. But 149.0 million watched the game either all or in part (meaning they watched at least six minutes of the TV broadcast), according to Nielsen data cited by CBS.

However, Nielsen also pointed out that TV viewership saw a massive drop this year for what was generally thought to be a pretty boring game (and boring halftime show).

According to the measurement firm’s preliminary results released Monday evening,┬áthe telecast of Super Bowl LIII on CBS drew an average TV audience of about 98.2 million viewers.

That’s down 5 percent from last year, when 103.4 million people watched the Super Bowl on NBC, and a 12 percent drop from 2017’s game on Fox. The New York Times attributed the decline to the forgettable game, New Orleans fans tuning out, NFL boycotts over Colin Kaepernick’s treatment and other factors. It’s also the smallest TV audience since 2008, when the Giants beat the Patriots.