Rihanna Super Bowl Halftime Show Draws 28.5 Million Households, Less Than Last Year

Rihanna’s appearance during halftime of Super Bowl LVII launched likely millions of internet searches as curious viewers clamored to find out if the megastar is pregnant (she is), making her performance on that floating stage all the more impressive.

But she didn’t prove as big a draw as last year’s Super Bowl halftime performers, led by Dr. Dre. Early numbers from Samba TV, a TV technology company that provides real-time analytics, found that Rihanna’s audience was slightly smaller than last year.

About 28.5 million households tuned in to the Barbadian singer’s performance Sunday evening, compared to 28.7 million who watched Dre and an all-star supporting cast during last year’s show.

The smaller audience is a bit surprise in light of early numbers for the big game. It appears to be up vs. last year, with 36.7 million households viewing the contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. That’s up from 36.5 million the previous year.

Samba notes that those numbers don’t include viewership outside the home, such as at a bar, or on mobile devices.

“Rihanna’s star power has only continued to grow since her last tour and album release more than half a decade ago,” noted Samba TV founder and CEO Ashwin Navin. “Apple Music’s visually stunning halftime show drew in an impressive 28.5 million viewers, falling just short of last year’s star-studded show featuring the biggest names in rap music history, including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige. Overall, the halftime show drew in about a quarter of a percent fewer viewers than last year.”

Samba uses a U.S. TV panel pulling from over 25 million connected TVs in the U.S. measuring both linear TV consumption as well as streaming. It’s different than the widely cited numbers from Nielsen, which had a monopoly on TV ratings for decades that has loosened in recent years.

Rihanna’s numbers could have been impacted by any number of things. While people tried to figure out for weeks beforehand who the “surprise guest” would be—a tradition that has included Britney Spears, Sting and Justin Timberlake in the past—there weren’t any leaks beforehand, which may have dampened excitement.

For her part, Rihanna hinted that she’d be bringing out someone; it turned out to be her second baby, on display in a red outfit that hugged her small bump.

Last year’s comparisons are also a tough one. The Dre halftime show received a huge amount of hype because of anticipation over all the performers getting together. Rihanna still drew substantially more viewers than the halftime performer two years ago, The Weeknd.

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