A close score Sunday between the New England Patriots and New York Giants likely will break the record set by last year's Super Bowl for the largest audience in U.S. television history of 111 million people.

The NFL soars into the Super Bowl defying the sinking ratings that plague much of TV. As "American Idol's" slow start this season shows, hanging on to viewers is rough when there are so many entertainment options.

Meanwhile, the NFL had its most-watched conference championship Sunday in 30 years.

In 2006, NFL games on CBS, Fox and NBC averaged 66 percent more viewers than the prime-time lineups on the Big 4 broadcast networks during the regular season. By 2011, that advantage had multiplied to 144 percent.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)