By Sarah Berkowitz

Maybe it was all the talk about Deflategate that juiced interest and maybe because it was such a compelling and close game.

But the early numbers are in, and last night’s Super Bowl was a huge hit on TV.

With a record-breaking 114.4 million viewers, Super Bowl XLIX was the most-watched program in U.S. television history, according to data released by the Nielsen Company. The audience for Sunday’s championship matchup exceeded last year’s total by 2.2 million. Super Bowl XLIX is now the highest-rated title game in 30 seasons, topping the 1986 showdown between the Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

NBC Sports announced that the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX victory over the Seahawks delivered a 49.7 overnight rating, the highest in Super Bowl history.

Last year’s Super Bowl overnight rating was a 47.6 for the Seahawks’ blowout win over the Broncos. Closer games generally deliver higher ratings; the previous year’s nail-biter between the Ravens and 49ers got a 48.1 overnight rating, which was the record until now.

The Super Bowl’s total number of viewers, which could be an American television record, will be announced later today.

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