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Original Issue

Ride the Wave

The Super Bowl TV audience is huge—but some super moments are huger than others

99.9 million. When the press releases went out after Super Bowl LIV last February, that was the average number of viewers for the broadcast on Fox, according to the standard metrics cited by networks and ad buyers. But there’s a more interesting story when you look deeper. The media measurement firm MVP Index broke down the minute-by-minute viewership totals, including Fox and Fox Deportes, from the coin toss to the trophy presentation (all times ET). The graph shows an audience that ebbs and flows—and likes the halftime show (shaded) better than most of the football action. There’s also a message for ad buyers: If you want your spot seen, buy the fourth quarter, not the first.

1. 6:30 p.m.  100,252,256

Pregame coin toss

2. 6:41 p.m.  105,257,547

Opening kickoff 

3. 6:53 p.m.  110,265,379

Robbie Gould field goal, 49ers go up 3–0 

4. 6:54 p.m.  108,380,823

First in-game commercial break

5. 7:19 p.m. 112,490,028

2nd quarter begins

6. 7:39 p.m. 115,678,162

49ers touchdown, game tied 10–10

7. 8:01 p.m. 117,438,039

2nd quarter ends

8. 8:32 p.m. 111,906,282

3rd quarter begins

9. 8:57 p.m. 114,529,629

49ers take 20–10 lead

10. 9:09 p.m. 113,777,360

4th quarter begins

11. 9:46 p.m. 117,261,301

Damien Williams TD, Chiefs go ahead 24–20

12. 9:53 p.m. 118,733,533

Most-viewed commercial break

13. 10:11 p.m. 109,618,994

4th quarter ends, Chiefs win 31–20

14. 10:19 p.m. 91,450,992

Trophy presentation begins