The Super Bowl is not only the biggest sporting event each year in the U.S. but is one of the largest television events. In fact, the three most watched TV broadcasts in U.S. history, in order, were Super Bowls XLVI (Giants beat the Patriots), XLV (Packers beat the Steelers) and XLVII (Ravens beat the 49ers) - each broadcast had over 100 million U.S. viewers.
There is so much attention paid to the game that 30-second commercials now command $4 million, which is equal to $133,333 per second, and Super Bowl half-time show now features some of the biggest acts in music. It has become a definite moment each year.
We decided to look at the viewership of each past Super Bowl and see how the number of U.S. viewers has grown over the years broken out by the average number of people watching the game, the Nielsen Rating and the average number of households.
How many people watched each Super Bowl?
The most watched Super Bowl in history was Super Bowl XLVIII (Seahawks vs. Broncos), which had an average total viewership (in the U.S.) of 111.5M. The least watched Super Bowl was Super Bowl II (Packers vs. Raiders) which had an average viewership of 39.12M.
Here is a chart showing each Super Bowl:
Which Super Bowl had the highest Nielsen Ratings?
Nielsen Rating is a measure of the percentage of total television equiped homes that tune into a broadcast with each point represent one percent of the total number of households. The number of total households is updated each year but in 2012-13, a Nielsen Rating point was equal to 1.142M households.
The Super Bowl with the highest Nielsen Rating was Super Bowl XVI (49ers vs. Bengals), which had a rating of 49.1 and is the second most watched program of all-time by Nielsen Rating (M*A*S*H finale had a 60.2 rating). The lowest Nielsen Rating of a Super Bowl was Super Bowl III (Jets vs. Colts) with a rating of 36.0.
Additionally, here is the complete breakdown of Television numbers for each Super Bowl including the total average number of viewers, Nielsen Rating and the average number of households that watched the game.
For more interesting Super Bowl numbers check out: