A closer look at Super Bowl LVIII's record-breaking viewership

Super Bowl LVIII this past Sunday was the most-watched Super Bowl ever.

A closer look at Super Bowl LVIII's record-breaking viewership
Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates on stage during the celebration of the Kansas City Chiefs winning Super Bowl LVIII. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The backstory: Every year, Americans gear up for the Super Bowl. If you're not familiar with it, the Super Bowl is where the top National Football League (NFL) teams compete for the championship title. Since its kickoff back in 1967, the Super Bowl has been drawing in millions of viewers with its adrenaline-pumping gameplay, epic halftime shows and those witty and viral commercials everyone talks about for weeks. 

Speaking of ads, companies are willing to drop big cash (between US$6-7 million) just to snag a 30-second spot during the game. This year was no different, with brands pulling out all the stops to leave a lasting impression. From celebrity-studded ads featuring the likes of Beyoncé and Lionel Messi to nostalgic reunions from beloved TV shows like "Friends" and "Suits," the commercials added to the excitement of the Super Bowl.

More recently: The NFL's popularity has steadily been going through the roof over the years. Last year, NFL games were all over the top TV charts, grabbing 93 out of the top 100 spots in the US. And the Super Bowl? Last year, it drew a whopping 115.1 million viewers.

The development: Super Bowl LVIII this past Sunday was the most-watched Super Bowl ever, with an average of about 123.4 million viewers tuning in. While it didn't quite reach the numbers of the Apollo 11 moon landing broadcast in 1969, it was still huge. According to media analysts Nielsen, a record-breaking 202.4 million people watched at least some of the game. CBS alone had 112 million viewers, and streaming services like Paramount+, Nickelodeon and Univision added the rest.

Aside from the ads, a few things made this Super Bowl a smash hit. First, the Kansas City Chiefs' nail-biting overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers had fans on the edge of their seats. On top of that, the Chiefs were defending their championship title from last year. Then, all eyes were on pop sensation Taylor Swift, especially given her romance with Chiefs player Travis Kelce. Swift was also spotted mingling with celebrities like Blake Lively and Ice Spice. Plus, Usher's halftime performance, which featured guest appearances by Alicia Keys and HER, was another highlight that had everyone buzzing. 

Key comments:

"She is without a doubt incremental to audience on the NFL," said Bob Bakish, the chief executive of CBS parent company Paramount Global, last week to Bloomberg, referring to Taylor Swift." She's a great addition, widening the net of the NFL viewer even further."

"Advertisers this year are doing everything they can to try to break through the clutter," said Northwestern University marketing professor Tim Calkins about ads during the Super Bowl." They're pulling out all the stops."