Broncos-Panthers draws second-highest rating in Super Bowl history

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Broncos fans watch Super Bowl 50 at It's Brothers, a bar in Lower Downtown on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (Photo: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Sunday’s Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl 50 couldn’t quite top the excitement — or the viewership — of last year’s Patriots-Seahawks game.

Still, Super Bowl 50 ranks as the second-highest rated Super Bowl in history, according to overnight Nielsen ratings data.

The game averaged a 49.0 rating, meaning 49 percent of American homes with TV sets had the game turned on. Last year’s record rating was a smidge higher — 49.7. The share — the percentage of TVs turned on — was a whopping 73.

In Denver, the game drew a 53.9 rating and an 82 share. It’s the highest-rated Super Bowl in the Denver market since 1995.

Charlotte, N.C., had a 55.9 overnight rating. Nashville, Tenn. (57.7); Albuquerque, N.M. (56.9); Norfolk, Va. (56.8); Greensboro, N.C. (56.7) and Greenville, N.C. (56.6) were the highest-rated markets.

Actual viewership totals will be released later in the day on Monday. Nielsen doesn’t include any out-of-home viewing in these ratings, so viewing parties at bars and restaurants are not counted in the total.

Internet streaming of Super Bowl is not counted, either. CBS made the game widely available on tablets, computers and streaming boxes like Apple TV. While there were some sporadic glitches, most people were able to stream the game without any problems.

A CBS spokeswoman said Sunday night the network set a Super Bowl streaming record, which is unsurprising, given that streaming becomes more popular with each passing year. Streaming data will likely be released on Monday afternoon.

Last year’s Super Bowl streaming record, set by NBC, was for 1.3 million simultaneous viewers.

Meanwhile, 114.4 million people watched simultaneously via TV last year, signaling that the vast majority of Super Bowl viewership happened via cable, satellite and antennas.

NBC called last year’s game “the most-watched show in U.S. television history.”

Nielsen ratings are a minute-by-minute average of a program’s viewership, so if people tune out because they’re bored by the game, that affects the average.

The Broncos led for the entire game after kicking a field goal on the games’ opening drive, so the lack of drama could hurt CBS’s overall total. Some armchair commentators said the best part of the event was Beyonce’s performance at the halftime show.

However, according to the overnight Nielsen data, the ratings held steady in the 7 p.m. MST hour, and peaked at the end of the game, 8 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., with a 51 rating.