Sports on TV: Why L.A.’s 26th-best Super Bowl rating is better than it looks

Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp
By Bill Shea Feb 16, 2022 53
Is Los Angeles really an NFL town?

That’s one topic of conversation in the wake of NBC publishing viewership data for Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI telecast.

The network tells us that 112.3 million people saw the L.A. Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, but the list of top 10 markets by local TV ratings doesn’t include L.A., which audience measurement service Nielsen ranks as the nation’s No. 2 media market.

Cincinnati topped the 44 measured markets for Super Bowl LVI viewership, followed by the Matthew Stafford lovers/haters in Detroit at No. 2. No surprise there, since Bengals fans have been starved of a Super Bowl since January 1989, and Lions fans were keen to see Stafford finally in The Big Game after a dozen seasons of his talents squandered in Motown.

Los Angeles ranked 26th with a 36.7 rating, which fueled plenty of commentary on social media that La La Land isn’t much of a football market.

Super Bowl LVI top local market TV ratings

(Note: A rating is the percentage of TV households tuned to a particular program; a share is the percentage of those TV households in use at that time and tuned into that program.)

L.A. may not be a football madhouse compared to the smaller, snowy Midwest and East Coast markets, which dominated the local market ratings for Sunday, but overall Los Angeles gave us the most eyeballs of any single market.

There’s a good chance the NFL and NBC are genuinely pleased with L.A. tuning in at the rate it did. Why? Because that market is 5.73 million TV households, and a 36.7 rating translates into 2.