NEW YORK — For the second year in a row, the Super Bowl set a record for American television viewing.
The Nielsen Co. said that an estimated 111 million people watched the Green Bay Packers outlast the Pittsburgh Steelers in professional football's ultimate game. That tops the 106.5 million who watched the 2010 game between New Orleans and Indianapolis.
The series finale of 'MASH' had held the title of the most-watched TV show in the United States for 27 years. It is now No. 3.
Fox had the advantage of a game between two of the NFL's iconic franchises and, even though it looked like it could be a rout when the Packers took a 21-3 lead, it went down to the final minute and held viewers' interest.
In fact, the most-watched single play of the game was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's final incomplete pass to Mike Wallace with about a minute to go, according to measurements by TiVo Inc., the digital video recorder maker.
The five most-watched events in U.S. TV history are now 'MASH' (seen by just under 106 million people on Feb. 28, 1983) and the last four Super Bowls, Nielsen said.
Television ratings in general have been super for the NFL this year, with viewership up 13 percent over last year, Nielsen said.
People were much less likely to stop the game to repeat the ads in the second half, when the football action was compelling.
No beer ads made TiVo's top 10 rated ads for the game.
The average Super Bowl viewer with a DVR either paused, rewound or fast- forwarded 145 times during the game, TiVo said.