It also was the second most-watched program in television history, averaging 97.5 million viewers, Nielsen Media Research said Monday. The 1983 series finale of "MASH" attracted the largest TV audience ever, 106 million.
The previous record for a Super Bowl was 94.1 million, set in 1996 when 94.1 million tuned in for Super Bowl XXX, Fox Sports said in a statement.
Super Bowl XLII's total audience of 148.3 million viewers -- defined as people age 2 and over who watched all or part of the game, also set a record -- surpassing the previous high of 144.4 million viewers posted for Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.
"The viewership for Super Bowl XLII is nothing short of historic," said Fox Sports Chairman David Hill. "In addition to the game, which was one of the most thrilling Super Bowls ever, we're seeing bigger audiences for the pre-game and post-game, which completely validates our decision to include a greater focus on the celebrities, parties and music that surround the game."