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Super Bowl LI Draws Lower TV Ratings Despite Overtime Finish

by Reuters /
Image: Super Bowl LI
New England Patriots free safety Duron Harmon plays with a child on the field after the game.Larry W. Smith / EPA

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Fox Television's broadcast of Super Bowl LI on Sunday night drew 111.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen data released by the network on Monday, the smallest audience for the National Football League's title game in four years.

The contest included a thrilling finish, with the New England Patriots staging a comeback to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in the National Football league's first-ever Super Bowl overtime. The Patriots returned from a 25-point deficit and quarterback Tom Brady, 39, won his record fifth championship.

The Falcons were in control for much of the game, with a 28-3 lead midway through the third quarter. That likely dragged down ratings for Fox, which posted the least-viewed Super Bowl since 2013, when 108.7 million watched the Baltimore Ravens defeat the San Francisco 49ers.

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Last year's Super Bowl drew a 111.9 million viewers to CBS Corp's CBS, while the Patriots' previous title game appearance in 2015 helped Comcast Corp's NBC television draw 114.4 million viewers, the most-watched TV broadcast in U.S. history.

Despite the lower viewership, the brief overtime, in which the Patriots scored a touchdown in their first possession, allowed Fox to add four more commercials, which added as much as $20 million to its intake; Fox was charging $5 million for 30-seconds of air time during the game.

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The network brought in an estimated $509.6 million in ad revenue for the broadcast, according to research firm iSpot.TV.

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