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February 4, 2013

Ravens Superbowl win likely set ratings record

Between a partial power outage, overly excited quarterback and a game that suddenly turned from snoozer to sizzler, CBS had its hands full with the Super Bowl. The audience offered a final reward, though.

The Baltimore Ravens' 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers set a Super Bowl record for highest ratings in the Nielsen Co.'s overnight measurement of large cities. Nielsen planned to estimate the game's viewership later Monday, and CBS hoped to make it the fourth year in a row that football's ultimate game broke the record for most-watched event in American television history.

The game's 48.1 overnight rating and 71 share was 1 percent above the same measurement for the 2012 game, Nielsen said.

Pro football ratings in general declined this season. And when the Ravens' Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown and gave his team a 28-6 lead, CBS' dream of a ratings record surely became more distant. And then half the lights went out. CBS' ratings immediately dipped by two full ratings points.

When the lights returned, so did the 49ers. They quickly jumped back in the game and CBS' audience, no doubt fueled by social media chatter, came back, too.

CBS had a moment of dead air when the field darkened, since power was lost in the control booth where Jim Nantz and Phil Simms worked. After a commercial break, sideline anchor Steve Tasker appeared to say there had been a power outage. CBS then filled time with its football pregame team, showing highlights and speculating on how the delay would affect the teams.

At the precise moment the lights went out, CBS' Armen Keteyian was in the NFL's control booth, conducting an interview with Frank Supovitz, senior vice president of the NFL in charge of events.

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