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TV Note: 2/5/02

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

'Super' ratings

A big upset and thrilling finish helped draw a larger TV audience to the Super Bowl than last year.

Fox's telecast of the New England Patriots' 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday registered a preliminary big-market rating of 42.5 -- 5 percent higher than last year -- with a 61 share, Fox said.

If the preliminary figures held for the national ratings due out late yesterday, that would mean an average of 42.5 percent of the country's TV homes were watching at any given moment. For television sets actually being used, that would mean 61 percent were tuned to the game.

Preliminary, or overnight, ratings measure the country's 53 largest TV markets, including Pittsburgh, covering about 65 percent of the United States.

Viewership was high throughout Fox's broadcast Sunday, including a 40.7 rating for a halftime show featuring Irish rock band U2. That's more than six times the 6.2 rating NBC got for its attempt at halftime counterprogramming, a special edition of "Fear Factor" featuring scantily clad Playboy playmates doing stunts such as walking a tightrope between two buildings.

The audience -- which advertisers paid Fox an average of just under $2 million per 30-second commercial to reach -- increased every 15 minutes from kickoff until a slight dip at the start of halftime. The numbers then increased again straight through to the final play, Adam Vinatieri's 48-yard field goal just after 10 p.m. The rating peaked with 46.8 percent of the country watching.

(Howard Fendrich, Associated Press)

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