The four-hour-plus game at the Superdome in New Orleans was seen Sunday in an average of 48.1 percent of households in the top 56 U.S. television markets, New York-based CBS said, citing early Nielsen Holdings data. Last year's Super Bowl between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots was seen in 47.8 percent of households in the big markets.
The previous record was 47.9, shared by the 2011 NFL championship between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, and the 1987 title game between the Giants and Denver Broncos.
The Ravens, helped by Jacoby Jones' 108-yard kickoff return to open the third quarter following a halftime performance by the singer Beyonce, held a 28-6 lead when many of the Superdome's lights went out. The 49ers scored 17 points in 4 minutes, 10 seconds after play resumed.
San Francisco had an opportunity to claim the lead in the game's final minutes, reaching the Ravens' 5-yard line before a fourth-down pass from quarterback Colin Kaepernick fell incomplete with 1:46 left.
The television rating peaked at 52.9 between 7:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. PST as the game reached its conclusion, CBS said.
With a push from the Super Bowl, CBS is poised to become first in both total audience and advertiser- targeted viewers ages 18 to 49 for the first time in two decades. The network, home to the drama "NCIS" and the comedy "Big Bang Theory," is already the most-watched U.S. network, averaging 8.9 million prime-time viewers a night since the TV season began in September.
More complete national ratings are due later. Last year's Super Bowl on NBC was seen by a U.S. television-record 111.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen data.
CBS, which also streamed the game online, charged advertisers an average of $3.8 million for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial, 7.1 percent more than a year ago, according to industry researcher Kantar Media, a unit of WPP.
The network used back-up power when the blackout occurred and the telecast never left the air. With lead broadcasters Phil Simms and Jim Nantz without electricity in the press box, sideline reporters Steve Tasker and Solomon Wilcots handled initial commentary duties during the power failure.
Joe Flacco led the Ravens to their second championship, throwing three touchdown passes, and was named the game's Most Valuable Player. Flacco was 22-of-33 passing for 287 yards, and his 11 playoff touchdown passes this season tied a record held by Joe Montana and Kurt Warner. Flacco didn't throw an interception in the postseason.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh, 50, beat his 49-year-old brother, Jim, head coach of the 49ers, in the first meeting in any of the four major U.S. professional sports in which brothers faced off as coaches in a postseason game.
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