Celebrations begin in the stadium following the Super Bowl between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints in Miami on Sunday. ((J. Pat Carter/Associated Press))

The Super Bowl was watched by more than 106 million people in the U.S., surpassing the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H  to become the most-watched program in U.S. television history.

The Nielsen Co. estimated Monday that 106.5 million people watched the New Orleans Saints upset the Indianapolis Colts.

That beats the M*A*S*H finale, which had 105.97 million viewers in an era when there were fewer television sets.

Compelling story lines involving the city of New Orleans and its recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the quest for a second Super Bowl ring for Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning propelled the viewership.

The game also obliterated the previous record viewership for a Super Bowl — last year's game between Arizona and Pittsburgh in which 98.7 million people watched.