NEW YORK, Jan. 29 -- Super Bowl XXX between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers attracted a record 138,488,000 viewers, making it the most-watched television program in history, according to NBC research. That viewership figure, reported by Nielsen Media Research, reflects a gross measurement of everyone who was tuned into the three-hour NBC telecast Sunday for at least six minutes. Nielsen's so-called 'fast national' survey gave the game less stellar results in terms of ratings, which measure viewership by TV household for the duration of the program. The Cowboys' 27-17 victory Sunday posted a 46.1 rating and a 72 share, making it the 16th highest-rated TV show and the best NFL performer since Super Bowl XX. Chicago's 46-10 rout of New England that season did a 48.3 rating and a 70 share. But ratings-wise, this game ranked ninth among all Super Bowls. The best rating was a 49.1 in 1982 for Super Bowl XVI between San Francisco and Cincinnati. One rating point equals 1 percent of the nation's 95.9 million television households. The share is the percentage of households using television that are tuned into a particular show or network. The 46.1 rating on Sunday represents a 12-percent increase over the 41.3 rating for San Francisco's 49-26 victory over San Diego last season. The Super Bowl pregame show had a 17.2 rating and 35 share and the postgame show posted a 35 rating and 53 share. The big game also brought a big audience for NBC's heavily promoted special hourlong episode of 'Friends,' which aired after the game beginning about 10:15 p.m. EST.
That show, featuring guest appearances by Julia Roberts, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Brooke Shields and Chris Isaak, posted a 29.5 rating and a 47 share. NBC said it was the most-watched situation comedy following a Super Bowl game, and the highest-rated post-Super Bowl telecast since '60 Minutes' following the 1984 game.