Among the few beneficiaries of Sunday's Super Bowl blackout (along with Twitter and the San Francisco 49ers) was Puppy Bowl IX, Animal Planet's annual canine competition.

The Puppy Bowl itself was a two-hour broadcast, but Animal Planet played it on a loop as part of a 12-hour marathon. And sure enough when the lights went off at the SuperDome, viewership of the Puppy Bowl surged.

According to a press release issued Tuesday by Animal Planet, viewership of the Puppy Bowl jumped to 1.1 million from 8:51 p.m.-9:00 p.m. ET Sunday. That was a 54 percent increase from the previous segment.

This sudden audience shift helped contribute to the most successful year ever for the Puppy Bowl, at least measured by viewership. Animal Planet reported Tuesday that Puppy Bowl IX drew 12.4 million viewers this year, the most in its nine-year history.

The Puppy Bowl's premiere telecast (3 p.m.-5 p.m. ET) drew more than 2.5 million viewers, making it the most watched show on cable and the second highest rated program on TV (second only to CBS' Super Bowl pregame show) during its time slot;.

The premiere generated nearly 300,000 Tweets, up from a record 214,000 last year.

The animals who participated in Puppy Bowl IX came from Petfinder.com rescue groups and shelters across the United States and Puerto Rico. Most Valuable Puppy (MVP) honors went to a Schnauzer/Beagle mix named Marta.

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