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Super Bowl Ratings The 2nd Best Ever

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes(10) catches a touchdown pass as Arizona Cardinals safety Aaron Francisco(47) and his teammate Ralph Brown watch during the fourth quarter of the NFL Super Bowl XLIII football game, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla.
AP Photo
An estimated 95.4 million people watched the Pittsburgh-Arizona Super Bowl, making it second only to last year's game as the most popular ever.

NBC was blessed with a thrilling finish, and viewership peaked late in the fourth quarter, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The 2008 game between the Giants and the Patriots had a similar come-from-behind, last-minute score for the victory. Two big markets and the novelty of a team trying to go 19-0 kicked the 2008 game to an audience of 97.4 million.

The only program other than a Super Bowl to top Sunday night's game in U.S. television history was the finale of the "M-A-S-H" series in 1983.

Meanwhile, the Go Daddy Web site's "enhancement" ad with Danica Patrick was the most-watched commercial in the Super Bowl.

TiVo Inc. made that determination by combining the number of people who watched the ad live and went back to see it again on their digital video recorder.

Placing the ad in the game's final few minutes was a huge gamble that paid off for Go Daddy Group Inc. If it had been a lousy game, much of the audience would have drifted away, but the gripping finish between Pittsburgh and Arizona kept fans watching.

Todd Juenger, general manager of TiVo's research department, says eight of the 10 most-watched ads came in the second half.

A Doritos commercial was the hands-down fan favorite, according to a "USA Today" consumer opinion poll. But one of the misses was Careerbuilder.com's ad, according to Richard Kirshenbaum, ad executive and co-chairman/founder of Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners.