ABC's telecast of the Super Bowl guaranteed the network a win for the week, but what may not have been so predictable was how big a lead it turned out to be. Not only did the game, in which the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10, produce the biggest audience for any television program since the Super Bowl of 1996, but people stayed tuned in for the post-game show in greater numbers than usual, and a special episode of Grey's Anatomy which followed drew the biggest audience for any entertainment program since the final episode of Friends in May 2004 -- 38.1 million. With 90.8 million viewers tuning in for the game, ABC's average for the week went through the roof -- 23.1 million (12.0 rating and a 19 share). By contrast CBS, which had won every other week of the season, averaged 12.1 million (7.7/12). And Fox, which again drew more than 30 million viewers for each of two episodes of American Idol, nevertheless ended up in third place in total viewers with an average of 10.3 million (6.2/10). NBC was a distant fourth with 7.6 million (5.1/8).
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. Super Bowl Xl, ABC, 41.6/62; 2. Super Bowl Post Game (10:05-10:10 p.m. EST), ABC, 34.6/51; 3. Super Bowl Post Game (10:11-10:27 p.m.), ABC, 29.0/44; 4. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 210./34; 5. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 17.4/27; 6. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 17.1/25; 7. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 16.9/25; 8. Without a Trace, CBS, 13.5/22; 9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 13.2/21; 10. Dancing With the Stars, ABC, 12.3/18.