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Super Bowl 2014 Ratings Were the Highest Ever*

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 02:  Wide receiver Percy Harvin #11 of the Seattle Seahawks   returns the second half kickoff for 87 yards during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show at MetLife Stadium against the Denver Broncos on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

It was a blowout of a Super Bowl, but that didn't stop viewers from watching: Just released numbers from Nielsen show 111.5 million people watched Sunday's Seattle-Denver smackdown, the largest audience yet for the NFL's championship game. That record does come with an asterisk, though: While up 200,000 viewers from last year's past record of 111.3 million, the U.S. population in the past year grew an estimated 2 million or so. (Yes, some of them were babies, but some were also immigrants.) If you judge based on household rating — that is, the percentage of U.S. homes watching — then the game was flat from 2013, with a 46.4 rating and a 69 share of the viewing audience. Given that the game was pretty much over by the first quarter, the ratings are still pretty damn impressive. Basically, a lot of folks really are watching for the ads. And the wings. 

Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images