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Fox sets new Super Bowl records with audience and ad revenues

NEW YORK - The New York Giants' dramatic last-minute win over the New England Patriots pulled in 97.5m viewers and $250m in ad dollars, giving TV network Fox and advertisers such as Budweiser, Audi and Pepsi the second biggest event in US television history.

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Only the 'M*A*S*H' series finale in 1983, with 106m viewers, was seen by more people, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The 97.5m figure represents the game's average audience during any given minute. Nielsen said that a total of 148.3m watched at least some part of the game.

Sunday's game eclipsed the previous Super Bowl record of 94.08m, set when the Dallas Cowboys defeated Pittsburgh Steelers in 1996.

Analysts said the record audience was helped by the nature of the game itself, with the teams never separated by more than one touchdown and a thrilling conclusion that saw the Giants win with the last pass of the game.

News Corporation today announced its second-quarter results, and revealed that the Super Bowl generated about $250m in TV network ad revenue. Rupert Murdoch said it was "the biggest day in the company's history".

A staggering 81% of all TV sets on in the Boston area, home of the Patriots, were tuned in to the game, while in New York the audience share was 67%.

Ed Goren, Fox sports president, said: "You might like your equation going in, but you still need some breaks going your way.

"The closeness of the game probably added a couple million viewers to the telecast's average; the audience peaked at 105.7m viewers between 9:30 and 10 p.m. EST -- during the fourth quarter."

A Budweiser commercial was voted the most popular ad in one poll during the Super Bowl, with a spot that pays homage to Sylvester Stallone's 'Rocky', but instead of a boxer the ad shows a Dalmatian training a horse.

The 60-second ad, which was created by DDB Chicago, shows a horse called Hank suffering the ignominy of being rejected to help pull the Budweiser wagon.

A horse called Thunder is chosen in his place, while Hank stands alone rejected and humiliated. As he does, a black and white spotted Dalmatian watches him from under a tree.

A Budweiser commercial has been voted the most popular ad during last night's Super Bowl, with a spot that pays homage to Sylvester Stallone's 'Rocky', but instead of a boxer the ad shows a Dalmatian training a horse.

The ad then shows the Dalmatian training Hank to the stirring sound of 'Rocky''s signature theme tune 'Gonna Fly Now'. Hank is shown weaving in and out of the trees in a dense forest in the depths of winter, lifting bales of hay and pulling a train.

Following months of rigorous training, the ad then shows Hank being chosen to pull the Budweiser wagon one year later. It ends with the strapline: "The Great American Lager".

The ad polled the highest rating in USA Today's Super Bowl Ad Meter, giving parent company Anheuser-Busch the accolade for a record 10th year in a row.

The Super Bowl, which aired on Fox, is expected to be one of the most watched in years. In a shock result, the New York Giants captured their first Super Bowl title in 18 years by upsetting the previously undefeated New England Patriots, the highest-scoring team in National Football League history, 17-14.

The second most popular ad in the poll was claimed by FedEx with an ad in which the company is shown competing with giant carrier pigeons. Third spot was claimed by tyre maker Bridgestone for an ad showing a car narrowly missing running over a squirrel.

Fourth spot was taken by Doritos for an ad showing a giant rat going for a man's bag of crisps; while fifth was staked by Bud Light with an ad showing a fire-breather heating up a romantic dinner.

Last year's winning ad for Budweiser featured a group of crabs worshipping a cooler of Budweiser on the beach.

Budweiser also paid for a spot to promote Bud Light, the ad pokes fun at celebrity endorsements and features Will Ferrell filming a fake commercial as a 1970s basketball player-coach named Jackie Moon. Ferrell will play the Moon character in his next movie 'Semi-Pro', which is due out at the end of the month in the US.

Other celebrity appearances included pop star Justin Timberlake in a spot for Pepsi. The campaign, created by BBDO New York and directed by Craig Gillespie, promotes Pepsi Stuff, a new marketing initiative that features the soft drinks maker giving away music and other items in return for points.

Another poll, this time by HCD Research, named the FedEx pigeon ad as the top Super Bowl commercial. The "carrier pigeons" spot was created by BBDO NY.

Audi returned to the Super Bowl for the first time in 20 years with a 'Godfather'-inspired spot created by Venables Bell & Partners. You can view the ad below.

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