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Super Bowl

NBC Breaks the Record with a 49.7 Rating and 114.4 Million Viewers During the Super Bowl

$4.5 million per spot looks like a bargain now

The pass that launched a thousand gasps. Photo: NBC

If you ask a network exec who won the Super Bowl this morning, the correct answer is anybody who bought an ad in the fourth quarter. NBC bet big on its high asking price for a 30-second spot this year. But $4.5 million, in hindsight, looks like a sound investment in a game that wasn't a sure thing until the last 20 seconds of play, with a controversial call by the Seahawks' offensive coordinator and a spectacular interception on the Patriots' 1-yard line by Malcolm Butler.

The average rating for the nail-biting evening? An incredible 47.5, topping the 46.7 rating for the Seahawks' domination of the Broncos in 2014 (and the previous record holder, the 2013 Ravens-49ers Super Bowl, which logged a 46.4).

The midseason return of The Blacklist pulled a not-terribly-impressive 8.5 rating (which adjusted way down from the fast nationals number, a 13.5). NBC's biggest and baddest bost-Bowl achievement is still  the last time the Peacock had the game, when it premiered Season 2 of The Voice to a 20 rating. It's also not as high as last year's episode of New Girl, which got an 11.8. But it is more people than usually watch The Blacklist.

NBC pulled few punches in ad negotiations this year—the price tag for ads in the game came to a whopping $4.5 million per, with an additional $4.5 million ask for other NBCU sports properties on top of it (though it's not clear in which cases the network was able to make the latter condition stick). Several heavy hitters publicly took their toys and went home, notably Ford and GM. It's always a toss-up as to whether a given Super Bowl's fourth-quarter spots will be worth as much as its Q1 inventory, but in this case brands like Mophie and Loctite got huge bang for their buck, despite having to sit in the back seat.

Ultimately, the evening went well for NBC: The network crammed its airtime with promos for Allegiance, The Voice and The Blacklist, and cross-promoted as hard as it could for properties like E! (The Royals) and Universal Pictures, with a Bowl-themed custom ad for Minions alongside straightforward trailers for Furious 7, Ted 2, Pitch Perfect 2 and of course—the final spot of the game—next Friday's Fifty Shades of Grey.

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