Yahoo Sports AM: The Super Bowl's massive audience

In today's edition: The Super Bowl's huge viewership, Wemby goes wild, Indiana State returns to the rankings, the top 20 plays of the NFL season, and more.

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🚨 Headlines

⚾️ 21 swings, 10 HRs: Shohei Ohtani impressed in his first Dodgers batting practice since undergoing elbow surgery. He says he's "trending toward being ready for Opening Day."

🏀 Jayhawks gets rocked: No. 6 Kansas lost by 29 points to Texas Tech (79-50), matching the program's largest-ever loss to an unranked opponent.

🏒 71st Beanpot: Gunnarwolfe Fontaine (yup, that's his real name) scored the game-winner to lift Northeastern past BU, 4-3 (OT), for their second straight Beanpot title.

💍 Quite the Sunday: After performing the Super Bowl halftime show, Usher got married to his longtime girlfriend Jennifer Goicoechea in Las Vegas.

🏈 Football hires: The Cowboys are hiring former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer as their DC, and UCLA is hiring former star RB Deshaun Foster as their head coach.

📺 The biggest audience since the moon landing

(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)
(Amy Monks/Yahoo Sports)

Super Bowl LVIII averaged a record 123.4 million viewers across all CBS platforms, making it the most-watched U.S. telecast since the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.

By the numbers: Viewership was up 7% from the previous Super Bowl high set by last year's Chiefs-Eagles game on Fox and Fox Deportes (115.1 million).

  • The CBS broadcast averaged 120 million viewers, the largest single-network audience on record, ahead of the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl on NBC in 2015 (114.4 million).

  • Super Bowl LVIII was also the most-streamed Super Bowl in history thanks to a record-setting audience on Paramount+, according to CBS.

  • 202.4 million viewers watched "all or part" (at least six minutes) of the Super Bowl, which is roughly 60% of the U.S. population. (What were the other 40% doing?! I never understand.)

Perspective: "This year's audience would have been hard to imagine as recently as three years ago, when the Buccaneers' COVID-era rout of the Chiefs averaged … just under 96 million (101 million including streaming viewership). The NFL's recovery from its COVID-era lull exceeds that of any other major pro sport," writes Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch.

Zoom out: Sunday's historic broadcast was the cherry on top of the NFL's record-breaking season, which saw the league post huge viewership numbers and new all-time highs throughout the regular season and playoffs.

  • Playoffs: The Wild Card round averaged 31.2 million viewers (up 8% from last year), the Divisional Round averaged 40 million (up 7% and the most-watched ever) and Championship Sunday averaged 56.1 million (up 11% and the most-watched ever), per the NFL.

  • Regular season: The NFL averaged 17.9 million viewers per game across all networks during the regular season, the league's best mark since 2015 and tied with 2010 as the second-highest average on record.

What's driving this viewership growth?

  • Hollywood strikes: The NFL benefitted from the writers' and actors' strikes, which meant less competition on TV this fall.

  • MNF on ABC: ABC carried "Monday Night Football" every week of the season after adding 10 simulcasts that were initially scheduled to air exclusively on ESPN.

  • The Taylor Swift effect: Female viewership during the regular season was up 9% from last year and the highest on record, per the NFL (records date back to 2000). When Swift attended a Chiefs game, viewership jumped 9-15%, per NYT.

  • OOH viewers: In 2020, Nielsen began including out-of-home viewership (OOH) in its overall ratings estimates (think: people watching at bars and other people's houses). Initially, COVID limited the impact but now it's having a significant effect on ratings.

The NFL is king: The NFL made up 93 of the top 100 TV broadcasts in 2023, per Sportico. That's up from 82 in 2022 and a huge step up from the 61 slots the league accounted for in 2018.

"If it's widely accepted that TV is now merely a delivery system for live sports and insurance commercials, last year's deliveries suggest that the rest of the so-called Big Four leagues have been remanded to a shadow tier." — Anthony Crupi, Sportico

🏀 Wemby's monster night

(Cole Burston/Getty Images)
(Cole Burston/Getty Images)

Victor Wembanyama's rookie season has more than exceeded the hype, but even he would admit his performance on Monday reached another level, Jeff writes.

ICYMI: Wemby had a rare triple-double with blocks in the Spurs' 122-99 win over the Raptors, scoring 27 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and swatting 10 shots in just 29 minutes. He also dished five assists, which puts his accomplishment in even more rarefied air.

Exclusive club: Wemby is just the fifth player since 1973 (when blocks became official) with 25 points, 10 rebounds, 10 blocks and 5 assists in a game, and he's the only one to do it in under 30 minutes. You may have heard of the other four:

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 1975

  • Ralph Sampson: 1983 … Also a rookie.

  • David Robinson: 1994

  • Hakeem Olajuwon (4x): 1986, 1987, 1990, 1996

A special season: The 20-year-old is averaging 20.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.2 blocks, putting him on pace to become the seventh player (and first rookie) with a 20-10-3-3 season. The Spurs may not be very good, but make no mistake: This kid's the future of the sport.

🌎 The world in photos

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Pacific Palisades, California — After 27 years with Nike, Tiger Woods unveiled his new "Sun Day Red" apparel and footwear brand with TaylorMade on Monday. SDR, which features a new tiger logo, officially launches on May 1.

(Darko Vojinovic/AP Photo)
(Darko Vojinovic/AP Photo)

Belgrade, Serbia Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and his staff attended assistant coach Dejan Milojević's funeral on Monday, a month after he died of a heart attack. Assistant coach Kenny Atkinson stayed behind to take Kerr's place on the bench in Monday's road win over the Jazz.

(Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
(Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Roquetas de Mar, Spain — The peloton rides through a tree-lined road during Sunday's 39th Clásica de Almería, a single-day road race.

🏀 45 years later, Indiana State is back

(Damon Bomar II/Yahoo Sports)
(Damon Bomar II/Yahoo Sports)

UConn and Purdue held onto the top two spots in this week's AP poll.

  • Rising: No. 10 Iowa State and No. 11 South Carolina had the biggest jumps, each rising four spots.

  • Falling: No. 20 Wisconsin fell nine spots after losing four straight games, and No. 22 Kentucky dropped five spots after losing three straight home games for the first time since 1966.

The headliner: No. 23 Indiana State is ranked for the first time since 1979, when Larry Bird led the top-ranked Sycamores from Terre Haute, Indiana, all the way to the national championship game, where they lost to Magic Johnson and Michigan State.

  • 45 years later, Indiana State is back on the national stage, led by guard Isaiah Swope (17.7 ppg) and goggle-wearing big man Robbie Avila (aka, "The College Jokić").

  • The Sycamores rank fifth nationally in scoring (85.6 ppg), ninth in 3-point percentage (39%) and No. 1 in adjusted field goal percentage, per KenPom.

What they're saying: "It's a group that the community can really wrap their arms around," says third-year head coach Josh Schertz. "And I think they have."

Game of the week… No. 4 Marquette at No. 1 UConn on Saturday (3pm ET, Fox)

🏀 Buckeyes jump to No. 2

(Damon Bomar II/Yahoo Sports)
(Damon Bomar II/Yahoo Sports)

Ohio State is up to No. 2 in this week's poll, matching the best ranking in program history. But can they stay there?

The No. 2 curse: Iowa was No. 2 last week before falling to unranked Nebraska, which marked the fifth consecutive week that the second-ranked team lost.

Game of the week… Michigan at No. 4 Iowa on Thursday (8pm ET, Peacock) … Caitlin Clark is eight points shy of setting the all-time scoring record.

📆 Feb. 13, 1954: Selvy scores 100

Selvy with the Lakers during the 1962 NBA Finals. (Walter Iooss Jr. /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
Selvy with the Lakers during the 1962 NBA Finals. (Walter Iooss Jr. /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

70 years ago today, Furman's Frank Selvy scored a D-I record 100 points in a 149-95 win over D-II Newberry College, Jeff writes.

Scoring machine: Selvy averaged 41.7 ppg as a senior, the fourth-best mark ever behind only Pete Maravich's three years at LSU. He went No. 1 overall to the Baltimore Bullets* that spring and spent nine years in the NBA, making two All-Star teams.

More on this day:

  • ⚾️ 1920: The Negro National League was founded, and it became the first Negro league to last more than one season.

  • 🥇 1988: The Winter Olympics began in Calgary, where two different stories were later turned into movies: "Cool Runnings" and "Eddie the Eagle."

*Bad timing: These Bullets, different from the team that eventually became the Wizards, folded just 14 games into Selvy's rookie year. He then headed to the Milwaukee (now Atlanta) Hawks in the dispersal draft.

📺 Watchlist: Round of 16

Copenhagen keeper Kamil Grabara will have his hands full with the defending champs. (Sebastian Widmann/UEFA via Getty Images)
Copenhagen keeper Kamil Grabara will have his hands full with the defending champs. (Sebastian Widmann/UEFA via Getty Images)

The Champions League knockout stage kicks off today with the opening legs of the first two matches in the Round of 16, Jeff writes.

  • Denmark: Copenhagen vs. Manchester City* (3pm ET, CBS)

  • Germany: RB Leipzig vs. Real Madrid (3pm, Paramount+)

The other matchups: Lazio vs. Bayern; PSG vs. Real Sociedad; Inter Milan vs. Atlético Madrid; PSV Eindhoven vs. Dortmund; Porto vs. Arsenal; Napoli vs. Barcelona

More to watch:

  • 🏀 NBA: Thunder at Magic (7:30pm, TNT); Kings at Suns (10pm, TNT)

  • 🏀 NCAAM: No. 7 UNC at Syracuse (7pm, ESPN); No. 25 Oklahoma at No. 12 Baylor (9pm, ESPN2); Ole Miss at No. 22 Kentucky (9pm, ESPN)

*Upset watch: Copenhagen are the clear underdogs against reigning champion Man City, but in 18 home games in their Champions League history, they've lost just twice.

🏈 Super Bowl trivia

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

How long was Taylor Swift shown on-screen during the Super Bowl broadcast?

  • 37 seconds

  • 54 seconds

  • 82 seconds

  • 121 seconds

Answer at the bottom.

🍿 The top 20 plays of the NFL season

Patrick Mahomes and Mecole Hardman celebrate after connecting for the Super Bowl-winning score. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Patrick Mahomes and Mecole Hardman celebrate after connecting for the Super Bowl-winning score. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Did I go back through the NFL season and pick the 20 best plays? Yes, I did.

  1. Jackpot, Kansas City!

  2. Walk-off punt return!

  3. Walk-off punt return!

  4. Wilson to Sutton

  5. A.J. Brown!

  6. Tee Higgins!

  7. Super Bowl trick play

  8. Aiyuk off the helmet

  9. Prescott to Lamb

  10. Garrett Wilson!

  11. No-look shovel pass

  12. Broncos Hail Mary

  13. Lamar to Lamar

  14. 75-yard TD run

  15. Athletic Pick 6

  16. Drew to Jaxon

  17. What a return

  18. Keenan Allen!

  19. 99-yard Pick 6

  20. Josh Allen TD run

Watch all 20.

Trivia answer: 54 seconds

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