The biggest annual TV event in the US sporting calendar, the football Super Bowl, failed to draw as big an audience this year.

Sunday night's football game between reigning champs the New England Patriots and challengers, the Philadelphia Eagles, was broadcast on Fox TV and notched 86.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, a fall of four percent on last year.

After 2004's wardrobe malfunction during the intermission show, when diva Janet Jackson's momentarily bared breast outraged America's new puritans and fuelled the TV indecency debate, the 2005 extravaganza was tightly controlled.

Inoffensive commercials, costing an average $2.4 million (€1.8m, £1.2m) for thirty seconds of airtime and a family friendly interval concert by ageing ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney created a show remarkable only for its blandness.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff