Detroit Lions fans help propel Super Bowl 56 to higher viewership

Detroit Free Press

More people watched a Super Bowl starring Matthew Stafford than one starring Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. And, maybe, you can thank Detroit Lions fans for that.

Super Bowl 56, between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams, was watched on television by more people than Super Bowl 55 nationwide, but that was especially true in Motown: Detroit had the second-highest TV viewership of the 44 metered markets tracked by Neilsen.

Could that be because Stafford, the most prolific passer in Lions history, was leading the Rams? It’s hard to say for certain, but Detroit probably played a role.

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The rating for the metro was 45.9/79, according to a news release from NBC, which broadcast the game. The first number denotes the average percentage of households in the U.S. with a television set watching the game at any given minute during its broadcast; the second reflects the average percentage of households in the U.S. with a TV in use that were watching the game at any given minute.

To no one’s surprise, Ohio cities dotted the top 10 with Cincinnati leading all markets, Columbus (an hour north of where Bengals QB Joe Burrow attended high school) coming in at No. 4 and Cleveland coming in at No. 6.

Detroit outranked Cleveland and Columbus, as well as Los Angeles — which is not only where the Rams call home, but it was the host city. LA registered a robust 77% share but its 36.7 rating was well below others.

1. Cincinnati 46.1/84

2. Detroit 45.9/79

3. Pittsburgh 45.6/74

4. Columbus 45.4/80

5. Kansas City 44.6/76

6. Milwaukee 44.0/75

6. Cleveland 44.0/78

8. Boston 42.6/74

9. Philadelphia 42.3/71

10. Jacksonville 41.3/73

Those figures, when looking at data from the last three years, are not typical for Detroit. Markets like Boston, Kansas City, Cleveland and Milwaukee have been in the top 10 each of the past three seasons. Philadelphia also made the list prior to this year; Detroit has not.

Lions fans love football, but they really love them some Stafford.

More generally, average Super Bowl TV viewership is slightly down overall from the highs of last decade, when, starting in 2010, the game averaged over 100 million viewers. Those numbers rose past 110 million until 2018 when TV viewership declined to 103 million, a number it hasn’t reached since. 

In 2021, the game, between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, averaged 95 million viewers, the lowest figure in more than 10 years. The Bengals-Rams topped 99 million.

It may be a stretch to say viewership is truly down with the rise of streaming services like Hulu Live and YouTube TV, which are not as closely tracked by Neilsen. NBC reported that, combined, NBC, Telemundo, Peacock, NBC Sports Digital, NFL Digital platforms and Yahoo Sports mobile properties averaged a total audience delivery of 112.3 million. Telemundo on Sunday became the first Spanish-language network to broadcast the Super Bowl.

While Super Bowl 56’s TV rating nationwide was near historic lows (36.9), the share for Sunday’s game was 72% was the best in six years.

With a metro population of 4.3 million (No. 14 in the country), it’s not crazy to argue some of the 2022 boost was due to Detroit and its surrounding towns.

Follow the Free Press on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Tyler Davis can be contacted at or on Twitter @TDavisFreep.

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