ENTERTAINMENT

Super Bowl LIII racks up lower TV ratings to go with its low score

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The lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history disappointed a swath of America on Sunday, and the TV audience for the matchup between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams is expected to have shrunk accordingly.

The CBS telecast averaged a 44.9 rating in the 56 overnight markets measured by Nielsen _ a decline of 5 percent from the comparable figure last year and the lowest since 2009. The number of viewers who watched will be released later Monday.

After a year when more offense and scoring helped boost regular-season ratings, Super Bowl LIII was a defensive battle, with the Patriots shutting down the Rams 13-3. The only touchdown scored came in the fourth quarter, a first in 53 Super Bowl contests.

While the tactical contest might have been compelling to serious football watchers, casual fans tend to enjoy higher-scoring shootouts.

Last year, Super Bowl LII was watched by 103.4 million TV viewers. Even though it was an action-packed contest in which the Philadelphia Eagles vanquished the Patriots by a score of 41-33, it was the smallest audience for the big game since 2009.

CBS, which sold 30-second ads in the game for an average of $5.25 million each, expected Super Bowl LIII to draw more than 100 million viewers. No Super Bowl has scored below that figure since 2009.

The first appearance of a Los Angeles team in the Super Bowl since 1984 did boost ratings in the nation's second-largest TV market. The 44.6 rating was the highest in Los Angeles since 1996.

While the size of the Super Bowl audience has fluctuated in recent years, the matchup remains the most watched TV event of the year by a larger margin than ever as the proliferation of viewing choices has chipped away at most other programs and big events. The Academy Awards telecast, which typically is the most-watched non-sports program of the year, had its lowest audience ever in 2018 with 26.5 million viewers.

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