The numbers are in. And pretty much everyone who doesn’t live or work in Denver won last night’s game.
That is: Nielsen says this year’s Super Bowl — boring by halftime and just about unwatchable the rest of the night — was the most popular TV show in history. The ratings tracker figures the game attracted an average of 111.5 million people in the U.S. That edges out the previous record of 111.3 million, set two years ago, and it’s up from last year’s 108.4 million.
That sound you hear is the clatter of Fox and NFL executives breaking out the shot glasses.
Twitter says it also set a record last night, when it logged 24.9 million tweets about the game, up from 24.1 million last year, which was way up from the 13.7 million it tracked in 2012. (Note that this is Twitter volume, not Twitter commenters — it sure would be interesting to see the breakdown between people who were sounding off and people who were passively reading.)
And Facebook has done a modest victory lap, too, boasting that it tracked 50 million people who generated 185 million “interactions” — leaving a comment, “Liking” a post, etc. — on Super Bowl-related stuff. Just like the Grammy’s data it offered up last week, Facebook isn’t comparing these with last year’s numbers, since it says it’s tracking things differently this year.
Here is where Twitter and Facebook would love to be able to claim credit for contributing to record ratings for a lousy game. And if you spent time on either service last night, that sure would make sense.
Early into the third quarter, I had zero interest in the game. But I still had it on, because it provided context to the stuff I was looking at on my phone. And sometimes stuff that happened during the broadcast made for interesting reading on the second screen. Like that bizarro Bob Dylan commercial for whatever it was. I can’t remember right now.
But so far Twitter, Facebook and Fox have not tried to argue that the social services have boosted ratings. And I don’t think they will. For starters, it’s nearly impossible to tell. And it may be that for a TV event this big, second screen stuff won’t ever have a real impact — it may be that Twitter and Facebook mean more for “Sharknado” than for the most popular program in American history.
The other reason Twitter and Facebook are likely reticent to take credit for any kind of ratings victory is that it would leave them on the hook if ratings declined while their numbers went up. That has happened in the past. And earlier today, when initial numbers made it seem as though this was going to be a mediocre game, ratings-wise, that’s what it looked like we were going to be talking about.
Nice for everyone involved — sorry, Peyton, everyone except for you and your pals — that there’s a different narrative.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.