The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League
(NFL). It has served as the final game of every NFL season since 1966, replacing the NFL Championship Game
. Since 2004, the game has been played on the first Sunday in February, but starting in 2022 will move to the second Sunday. Winning teams are awarded with the Vince Lombardi Trophy
, named after the eponymous coach
who won the first two Super Bowl games. Due to the NFL restricting use of its "Super Bowl" trademark, it is frequently referred to as the "big game" or other generic terms by non-sponsoring corporations.
The game was created as part of a 1966 merger agreement
between the NFL and the rival American Football League
(AFL) to have their best teams compete for a championship. It was originally called the AFL–NFL World Championship Game until the "Super Bowl" moniker was adopted in 1969's Super Bowl III
. The first four Super Bowls from 1967 to 1970 were played prior to the merger, with the NFL and AFL each winning two. After the merger in 1970, the 10 AFL teams and three NFL teams formed the American Football Conference
(AFC) while the remaining 13 NFL teams formed the National Football Conference
(NFC). All games since 1971's Super Bowl V
have been played between the two best teams from each conference, with the NFC leading the AFC 26–25.
Of the NFL's current 32 teams, 20 (11 NFC, 9 AFC) have won a Super Bowl and 14 (8 AFC, 6 NFC) hold multiple titles. The AFC's New England Patriots
and Pittsburgh Steelers
have the most Super Bowl titles at six each; the Patriots also have the most appearances at 11. At five losses each, the Patriots and the Denver Broncos
of the AFC hold the record for the most defeats in the Super Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens
of the AFC and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
of the NFC are the only franchises to be undefeated in multiple Super Bowls, having won two each. Among the 12 teams who have not won a Super Bowl, the AFC's Cleveland Browns
, Houston Texans
, and Jacksonville Jaguars
and the NFC's Detroit Lions
are the only four to have not appeared in the game.
The Super Bowl is among the world's most-watched sporting events and frequently commands the largest audience among all American broadcasts during the year. It is second only to the UEFA Champions League
final as the most watched annual sporting event worldwide and the seven most-watched broadcasts in American television history are Super Bowls. Super Bowl XLIX
in 2015 is the most-watched American television program with an audience of 114.4 million viewers, the fifth time in six years that the game set a viewership record.
Commercial airtime during the Super Bowl broadcast
is the most expensive of the year because of the high viewership, leading to companies regularly developing their most expensive advertisements for this broadcast and commercial viewership becoming an integral part of the event. The Super Bowl is also the second-largest day for American food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day
For four decades after its 1920 inception, the NFL successfully fended off several rival leagues. In 1960, the NFL encountered its most serious competitor when the American Football League
(AFL) was formed. The AFL vied with the NFL for players and fans. The original "bowl game" was the Rose Bowl Game
in Pasadena, California
, which was first played in 1902 as the "Tournament East–West football game" as part of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses
and moved to the new Rose Bowl Stadium
in 1923. The stadium got its name from the fact that the game played there was part of the Tournament of Roses and that it was shaped like a bowl, much like the Yale Bowl
in New Haven, Connecticut
. The Tournament of Roses football game eventually came to be known as the Rose Bowl Game. Exploiting the Rose Bowl Game's popularity, post-season college football contests were created for Miami (the Orange Bowl
), New Orleans (the Sugar Bowl
), and El Paso
(the Sun Bowl
) in 1935, and for Dallas
(the Cotton Bowl
) in 1937. By the time the first Super Bowl was played, the term "bowl" for any major American football game was well established.
After the American Football League's inaugural season
, AFL commissioner Joe Foss
sent an invitation to the NFL on January 14, 1961, to schedule a "World Playoff" game between the two leagues' champions, beginning with the upcoming 1961 season. The first World Playoff game would have, if actually played, matched up the Houston Oilers
vs. the Green Bay Packers
. It took a half-dozen more seasons for this idea to become a reality.
In the mid-1960s, Lamar Hunt
, owner of the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs
, first used the term "Super Bowl" to refer to the AFL–NFL championship game in the merger meetings. Hunt later said the name was likely in his head because his children had been playing with a Super Ball
a vintage example of the ball is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame
, Ohio. In a July 25, 1966, letter to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, Hunt wrote, "I have kiddingly called it the 'Super Bowl,' which obviously can be improved upon."
The leagues' owners chose the name "AFL–NFL Championship Game",
but in July 1966 the ''Kansas City Star'' quoted Hunt in discussing "the Super Bowl—that's my term for the championship game between the two leagues",
and the media immediately began using the term.
Although the league stated in 1967 that "not many people like it", asking for suggestions and considering alternatives such as "Merger Bowl" and "The Game"
, the Associated Press reported that "Super Bowl" "grew and grew and grew—until it reached the point that there was Super Week, Super Sunday, Super Teams, Super Players, ad infinitum". "Super Bowl" became official beginning with the third annual game.
are used to identify each Super Bowl, rather than the year in which it is held, since the fifth edition, in January 1971.
The sole exception to this naming convention tradition occurred with Super Bowl 50
, which was played on February 7, 2016, following the 2015 regular season
, and the following year, the nomenclature returned to Roman numerals for Super Bowl LI
, following the 2016 regular season
After the NFL's Green Bay Packers
won the first two Super Bowls, some team owners feared for the future of the merger. At the time, many doubted the competitiveness of AFL teams compared with their NFL counterparts, though that perception changed when the AFL's New York Jets
defeated the NFL's Baltimore Colts
in Super Bowl III
in Miami. One year later, the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs defeated the NFL's Minnesota Vikings
23–7 in Super Bowl IV
in New Orleans, which was the final AFL–NFL World Championship Game played before the merger. Beginning with the 1970 season, the NFL realigned into two conferences; the former AFL teams plus three NFL teams (the Baltimore Colts
, Pittsburgh Steelers
, and Cleveland Browns
) would constitute the American Football Conference
(AFC), while the remaining NFL clubs would form the National Football Conference
(NFC). The champions of the two conferences would play each other in the Super Bowl.
The winning team receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy
, named after the coach
of the Green Bay Packers, who won the first two Super Bowl games and three of the five preceding NFL championships
in 1961, 1962, and 1965. Following Lombardi's death in September 1970, the trophy was named after him. The first trophy awarded under the new name was presented to the Baltimore Colts following their win in Super Bowl V
Since 2004, the Super Bowl has been played on the first Sunday in February. This is due to the current NFL schedule which consists of the opening weekend of the season being held immediately after Labor Day
(the first Monday in September), the 17-week regular season
(where teams each play 16 games and have one bye
), the first three rounds of the playoffs
, and the Super Bowl two weeks after the two Conference Championship Games. The Conference Championship Games are the third round of the playoffs. The week after the third round of the playoffs is when the Pro Bowl
is played. The week after that, the Super Bowl is played. This schedule has been in effect since Super Bowl XXXVIII
in February 2004. The date of the Super Bowl can thus be determined from the date of the preceding Labor Day. For example, Labor Day in 2015 occurred on September 7; therefore the next Super Bowl was scheduled exactly five months later on February 7, 2016.
Originally, the game took place in early to mid-January. For Super Bowl I there was only one round of playoffs: the pre-merger NFL and AFL Championship Games. The addition of two playoff rounds (first in 1967 and then in 1978), an increase in regular season games from 14 to 16 (1978), and the establishment of one bye-week per team (1990) have caused the Super Bowl to be played later. Partially offsetting these season-lengthening effects, simultaneous with the addition of two regular season games in 1978, the season was started earlier. Prior to 1978, the season started as late as September 21. Now, since Labor Day is always the first Monday of September, September 13 is the latest possible date for the first full Sunday set of games (since 2002, the regular season has started with the Kickoff Game
on the first Thursday after Labor Day). The earliest possible season start date is September 7.
The Pittsburgh Steelers
and the New England Patriots
are tied with six Super Bowl wins; the Dallas Cowboys
and San Francisco 49ers
have five victories each, while the Packers and New York Giants
have four Super Bowl championships. Fourteen other NFL franchises have won at least one Super Bowl.
The Patriots own the record for most Super Bowl appearances overall (eleven) and tied for the most won (six).
The Cowboys, Steelers, and Denver Broncos
are tied for second with eight appearances apiece, achieving reaching that milestone in this respective order. Belichick owns the record
for most Super Bowl wins (eight) and participation in any capacity (twelve, nine times as head coach, once as assistant head coach, and twice as defensive coordinator). Dan Reeves
previously held the Super Bowl participation record in any capacity (nine, twice as a player, three times as assistant coach, and four times as head coach). Brady has the most Super Bowl starts (ten) and wins as a player (seven), while Charles Haley
has the second-most wins among players (five).
Eight teams have appeared in Super Bowl games without a win. The Minnesota Vikings
won the last NFL Championship before the merger but lost to the AFL champion Chiefs in Super Bowl IV and became the first team to have appeared a record four times without a win. The Buffalo Bills
played in a record four Super Bowls in a row but lost every one. The Patriots and Broncos are tied for the most Super Bowl losses (five).
Four teams (the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions
, Jacksonville Jaguars
, and Houston Texans
) have never appeared in a Super Bowl. The Browns and Lions both won NFL Championships prior to the creation of the Super Bowl, while the Jaguars (1995) and Texans (2002) are both recent NFL expansion teams.
1960s: Early history and Packers dominance
The Packers won the first two AFL–NFL World Championship Games, later renamed Super Bowls, defeating the Chiefs and Oakland Raiders
following the and seasons, respectively. The Packers were led by quarterback Bart Starr
, who was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP)
for both games. These two championships, coupled with the Packers' NFL championships in , , and , amount to the most successful stretch in NFL History; five championships in seven years, and the only threepeat
in NFL history (1965, 1966, and 1967).
In Super Bowl III, the AFL's New York Jets
defeated the eighteen-point favorite Baltimore Colts of the NFL, 16–7. The Jets were led by quarterback Joe Namath
, who had famously guaranteed a Jets win prior to the game, and former Colts head coach Weeb Ewbank
, and their victory proved that the AFL was the NFL's competitive equal. This was reinforced the following year when the Chiefs defeated the NFL's Vikings 23–7 in Super Bowl IV
1970s: Dominant franchises
After the AFL–NFL merger
was completed in 1970, three franchises—the Cowboys, Miami Dolphins
, and Steelers—would go on to dominate the 1970s, winning a combined eight Super Bowls in the decade.
The Baltimore Colts, now a member of the AFC, would start the decade by defeating the Cowboys in Super Bowl V, a game which is notable as being the only Super Bowl to date in which a player from the losing team won the Super Bowl MVP (Cowboys' linebacker Chuck Howley
). Beginning with this Super Bowl, all Super Bowls have served as the NFL's championship game.
The Cowboys, coming back from a loss the previous season, won Super Bowl VI
over the Dolphins. However, this would be the Dolphins' final loss for over a year, as the next year
, the Dolphins would go 14–0 in the regular season and eventually win all their playoff games, capped off with a 14–7 victory in Super Bowl VII
, becoming the first and only team to finish an entire perfect regular and postseason. The Dolphins would repeat as league champions by winning Super Bowl VIII
a year later.
In the late 1970s, the Steelers became the first NFL dynasty of the post-merger era by winning four Super Bowls (IX
, and XIV
) in six years. They were led by head coach Chuck Noll
, the play of offensive stars Terry Bradshaw
, Franco Harris
, Lynn Swann
, John Stallworth
, and Mike Webster
, and their dominant "Steel Curtain
" defense, led by "Mean" Joe Greene
, L. C. Greenwood
, Ernie Holmes
, Mel Blount
, Jack Ham
, and Jack Lambert
. The coaches and administrators also were part of the dynasty's greatness as evidenced by the team's "final pieces" being part of the famous 1974 draft
. The selections in that class have been considered the best by any pro franchise ever, as Pittsburgh selected four future Hall of Famers, the most for any team in any sport in a single draft. The Steelers were the first team to win three and then four Super Bowls and appeared in six AFC Championship Game
s during the decade, making the playoffs in eight straight seasons. Nine players and three coaches and administrators on the team have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Pittsburgh still remains the only team to win back-to-back Super Bowls twice and four Super Bowls in a six-year period.
The Steelers' dynasty was interrupted only by the Raiders' Super Bowl XI
win and the Cowboys winning their second Super Bowl of the decade.
Conversely, the Vikings, with quarterback Fran Tarkenton
and their Purple People Eaters
defense, were the only other team to appear in multiple Super Bowls (IV, VIII, IX and XI) this decade but failed to win each one.
1981–1996: The NFC's winning streak
In the 1980s and 1990s, the tables turned for the AFC, as the NFC dominated the Super Bowls of the new decade and most of those in the 1990s. The NFC won 16 of the 20 Super Bowls during these two decades, including 13 straight from Super Bowl XIX
to Super Bowl XXXI
The most successful team of the 1980s was the 49ers, which featured the West Coast offense
of Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh
. This offense was led by three-time Super Bowl MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana
, Super Bowl MVP and Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice
, running back Roger Craig
, and defensive safety/cornerback Ronnie Lott
. Under their leadership, the 49ers won four Super Bowls in the decade (XVI
, and XXIV
) and made nine playoff appearances between 1981 and 1990, including eight division championships, becoming the second dynasty of the post-merger NFL.
The 1980s also produced the 1985 Chicago Bears
, who posted an 18–1 record under head coach Mike Ditka
; quarterback Jim McMahon
; and Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton
. Their team won Super Bowl XX
in dominant fashion. The Washington Redskins
and New York Giants were also top teams of this period; Washington won Super Bowls XVII
, and XXVI
. The Giants claimed Super Bowls XXI
. Both teams won multiple Super Bowls with different starting quarterbacks; Washington won with Joe Theismann
(XVII), Doug Williams
(XXII) and Mark Rypien
(XXVI), and the Giants with Phil Simms
(XXI) and Jeff Hostetler
(XXV). As in the 1970s, the Raiders were the only team to interrupt the Super Bowl dominance of other teams; they won Super Bowls XV
(the latter as the Los Angeles Raiders).
Conversely, the Cincinnati Bengals
(XVI and XXIII), Miami Dolphins
(XVII and XIX) and Denver Broncos (XXI, XXII and XXIV) made multiple Super Bowls in the 1980s without winning one.
Following several seasons with poor records in the 1980s, the Cowboys rose back to prominence in the 1990s. During this decade, the Cowboys made post-season appearances every year except for the seasons of 1990 and 1997. From 1992 to 1996, the Cowboys won their division championship each year. In this same period, the Buffalo Bills had made their mark reaching the Super Bowl for a record four consecutive years, only to lose all four. After Super Bowl championships by division rivals New York (1990) and Washington (1991), the Cowboys won three of the next four Super Bowls (XXVII
, and XXX
) led by quarterback Troy Aikman
, running back Emmitt Smith
, and wide receiver Michael Irvin
. All three of these players went to the Hall of Fame. The Cowboys' streak was interrupted by the 49ers, who won their league-leading fifth title overall with Super Bowl XXIX
with a dominant performance featuring the Super Bowl MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young
, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, and Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders
; however, the Cowboys' victory in Super Bowl XXX the next year also gave them five titles overall and they did so with Sanders after he won the Super Bowl the previous year with the 49ers. The NFC's winning streak was continued by the Packers led by Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre
, won Super Bowl XXXI
, their first championship since Super Bowl II in 1968.
The New England Patriots made their maiden Super Bowl appearances in XX (1985) and XXXI (1996) but lost both times. However, the turn of the century would soon bring hope and glory to the franchise.
1997–2009: AFC resurgence and the rise of the Patriots
Super Bowl XXXII
saw quarterback John Elway
and running back Terrell Davis
lead the Denver Broncos to an upset victory over the defending champion Packers, snapping the NFC's thirteen-year winning streak. The following year, the Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons
in Super Bowl XXXIII
, Elway's fifth Super Bowl appearance, his second NFL championship, and his final NFL game. The back-to-back victories heralded a change in momentum in which AFC teams would win nine out of 12 Super Bowls. In the years between 1995 and 2018, five teams—the Steelers, Patriots, Broncos, Baltimore Ravens
, and Indianapolis Colts
—accounted for 22 of the 24 AFC Super Bowl appearances (including the last 16), with those same teams often meeting each other earlier in the playoffs. In contrast, the NFC saw a different representative in the Super Bowl every season from 2001 through 2010.
The New England Patriots became the dominant team throughout the early 2000s, winning the championship three out of four years early in the decade. They would become only the second team in the history of the NFL to do so (after the 1990s Dallas Cowboys). In Super Bowl XXXVI
, first-year starting quarterback Tom Brady
led his team to a 20–17 upset victory over the St. Louis Rams
, who two seasons earlier won Super Bowl XXXIV
. Brady would go on to win the MVP award for this game. The Patriots also won Super Bowls XXXVIII
defeating the Carolina Panthers
and the Philadelphia Eagles
respectively. This four-year stretch of Patriot dominance was interrupted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
' 48–21 Super Bowl XXXVII
victory over the Oakland Raiders.
The Steelers and Colts continued the era of AFC dominance by winning Super Bowls XL
in 2005–06 and 2006–07, respectively defeating the Seattle Seahawks
and Chicago Bears
In the 2007 season
, the Patriots became the fourth team in NFL history to have a perfect unbeaten and untied regular season record, the second in the Super Bowl era after the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and the first to finish 16–0. They easily marched through the AFC playoffs and were heavy favorites in Super Bowl XLII
. However, they lost that game to Eli Manning
and the New York Giants 17–14, leaving the Patriots' 2007 record at 18–1.
The following season, the Steelers logged their record sixth Super Bowl title (XLIII
) in a 27–23, final-minute victory against the Arizona Cardinals
The 2009 season saw the New Orleans Saints
defeat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV
by a score of 31–17 to take home their first Championship. With this victory, the Saints joined the Buccaneers and New York Jets as the only teams to have won in their sole Super Bowl appearance, a distinction the Ravens also enjoyed in winning Super Bowl XXXV
after the 2000 season.
2010s: The Patriots' second run; parity in the NFC
In the AFC, this era was dominated by the Patriots, with the only three other teams to represent the conference being the Steelers, Broncos and Ravens. The Super Bowls of the late 2000s and 2010s are notable for the performances (and the pedigrees) of several of the participating quarterbacks, especially on the AFC side in repeated appearances by the same teams and players. In particular, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger
, or Peyton Manning
appeared as the AFC team's quarterback in all but two of the Super Bowls from 2002 through 2019. Conversely, the only NFC teams to make the Super Bowl twice in this era were the Seahawks, led by quarterback Russell Wilson
, and the Giants, led by quarterback Eli Manning.
One of these teams was featured in the culmination of the 2010 season
, Super Bowl XLV
, which brought the Packers their fourth Super Bowl victory and record thirteenth NFL championship overall with the defeat of the Steelers in February 2011. This became Aaron Rodgers
' only Super Bowl victory. The following year, in Super Bowl XLVI
, the Patriots made their first appearance of the decade, a position where they would become a mainstay. The Patriots, however, lost to the Eli Manning led Giants, 21–17, who had beaten the Patriots four years before. This was the Giants' 4th Super Bowl victory.
In Super Bowl XLVII
, the NFC's 49ers were defeated by the Ravens 34–31. The game had been dubbed as the 'Harbaugh Bowl' in the weeks leading up to the game, due to the fact that the coaches of the two teams, John Harbaugh
and Jim Harbaugh
, are brothers. During the 3rd quarter, the Ravens had a commanding 28–6 lead. However, there was a blackout
in New Orleans, where the game was being played. The game was delayed for 34 minutes, and after play resumed, San Francisco stormed back with 17 straight points, but still lost. Super Bowl XLVIII
, played at New Jersey
's MetLife Stadium
in February 2014, was the first Super Bowl held outdoors in a cold weather environment. The Seahawks won their first NFL title with a 43–8 defeat of the Broncos, in a highly touted matchup that pitted Seattle's top-ranked defense against a Peyton Manning-led Denver offense that had broken the NFL's single-season scoring record.
In Super Bowl XLIX
, the Patriots beat the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks, by a score of 28–24. Down by 10, the Patriots hosted a late 4th quarter comeback to win the game with Tom Brady scoring two touchdowns in the 4th quarter. In a key play in the final seconds of the game, then rookie free agent Malcolm Butler
would intercept a pass by Russell Wilson at the one yard line, allowing the Patriots to run out the clock and end the game. Tom Brady was awarded his 3rd Super Bowl MVP, tying Joe Montana for the most Super Bowl MVP awards.
In Super Bowl 50
, the first Super Bowl to be branded with Arabic numerals
, the Broncos, led by the league's top-ranked defense, defeated the Carolina Panthers
, who had the league's top-ranked offense, in what became the final game of quarterback Peyton Manning's career. Von Miller
dominated, totaling 2.5 sacks and forcing two Cam Newton
fumbles; both fumbles leading to Broncos touchdowns.
In Super Bowl LI
, the first Super Bowl to end in overtime, the Atlanta Falcons led 28–3 late in the third quarter; however, they squandered the lead as the Patriots would tie the game 28–28 on back to back touchdowns and two point conversions. The Falcons lost to the Patriots 34–28 in overtime. This 25 point deficit would be the largest comeback win for any team in a Super Bowl, breaking the previous of a 10-point deficit to comeback and win. The Patriots never held the lead until the game winning touchdown in overtime. Tom Brady was awarded his record fourth Super Bowl MVP and 5th win as a Super Bowl Champion, throwing a then record 466 yards for 43 completions.
In Super Bowl LII
, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the defending champion Patriots 41–33, ending a 57-year championship drought for the franchise. Nick Foles
won the Super Bowl MVP. The Patriots totaled 613 yards in defeat, with Tom Brady breaking his previous Super Bowl record of 466 passing yards with an all time playoff record 505 passing yards in the high scoring game; while the Eagles would gain 538 yards in victory. The Patriots' 33 points was the highest losing score in Super Bowl history. The combined total of 1,151 yards of offense for both teams broke an NFL record (for any game) that had stood for nearly seven decades. It was the Eagles' third Super Bowl appearance, and their first win in franchise history.
While Super Bowl LII produced the second highest-scoring Super Bowl, the following year's Super Bowl LIII
became the lowest-scoring Super Bowl. The Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams
, 13–3. Tom Brady would receive a record sixth Super Bowl championship, the most of any player in NFL history, surpassing his tie with Charles Haley for five wins. Brady would also become the oldest player to ever win a Super Bowl at age 41, while Bill Belichick
would be the oldest coach to ever win a Super Bowl at age 66. Wide receiver Julian Edelman
was named Super Bowl MVP.
In Super Bowl LIV
, the Chiefs defeated the 49ers in an end-game comeback, 31–20, for their first Super Bowl title in 50 years. This victory marked the first time since 1991 that the NFC did not have more Super Bowl victories than the AFC. At Super Bowl LV
, which took place in Tampa, Florida
, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31–9. This marked a record seventh Super Bowl victory for Tom Brady, and marked the only time in the history of the Modern League that a host city's pro-football franchise got to play, and win, in the Super Bowl that was hosted there.
Television coverage and ratings
The Super Bowl is one of the most watched annual sporting events in the world, with viewership overwhelmingly domestic.
The only other annual event that gathers more viewers is the UEFA Champions League
For many years, the Super Bowl has possessed a large US and global television viewership, and it is often the most watched United States originating television program of the year. The game tends to have high Nielsen television ratings
, which is usually around a 40 rating and 60 shares. This means that on average, more than 100 million people from the United States alone are tuned into the Super Bowl at any given moment.
In press releases preceding each year's event, the NFL typically claims that this year's Super Bowl will have a potential worldwide audience of around one billion people in over 200 countries. This figure refers to the number of people ''able'' to watch the game, not the number of people ''actually'' watching. However, the statements have been frequently misinterpreted in various media as referring to the latter figure, leading to a common misperception about the game's actual global audience.
The New York-based media research firm Initiative measured the global audience for the 2005 Super Bowl at 93 million people, with 98 percent of that figure being viewers in North America, which meant roughly two million people outside North America watched the Super Bowl that year.
The 2015 Super Bowl XLIX holds the record for average number of U.S. viewers, with a final number of 114.4 million, making the game the most-viewed television broadcast of any kind in American history. The halftime show followed with 118.5 million viewers tuning in, and an all-time high of 168 million viewers in the United States had watched several portions of the Super Bowl 2015 broadcast. The game set a record for total viewers for the fifth time in six years.
The highest-rated game according to Nielsen was Super Bowl XVI in 1982, which was watched in 49.1% of households (73 shares), or 40,020,000 households at the time. Ratings for that game, a San Francisco victory over Cincinnati, may have been aided by a large blizzard that had affected much of the northeastern United States on game day, leaving residents to stay at home more than usual. Super Bowl XVI still ranks fourth on Nielsen's list of top-rated programs of all time, and three other Super Bowls, XII, XVII, and XX, made the top ten.
Famous commercial campaigns include the Budweiser
" campaign, the 1984 introduction of Apple's Macintosh computer, and the 1999 and 2000 dot-com
ads. As the television ratings of the Super Bowl have steadily increased over the years, prices have also increased every year, with advertisers paying as much as $3.5 million for a thirty-second spot during Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. A segment of the audience tunes into the Super Bowl solely to view commercials
[Commercials as big as game]
In 2010, Nielsen reported that 51 percent of Super Bowl viewers tune in for the commercials. The Super Bowl halftime show has spawned another set of alternative entertainment such as the Lingerie Bowl
, the Beer Bottle Bowl, and others.
Since 1991, the Super Bowl has begun between 6:19 and 6:40 PM EST
so that most of the game is played during the primetime
hours on the East Coast
U.S. TV rights
Throughout most of its history, the Super Bowl has been rotated annually between the same American television network
s that broadcast the NFL's regular season and postseason games.
Super Bowl I
(1967) is the only Super Bowl to have been broadcast in the United States by two networks simultaneously. At the time, NBC
held the rights to nationally televise AFL games while CBS
had the rights to broadcast NFL games. Both networks were allowed to cover the game, and each network used its own announcers, but NBC was only allowed to use the CBS feed instead of producing its own.
Starting with Super Bowl II
(1968), NBC televised the game in even years and CBS in odd years. This annual rotation between the two networks continued through the 1970 AFL–NFL merger
when NBC was given the rights to televise AFC games and CBS winning the rights to broadcast NFC games. When ABC
began broadcasting ''Monday Night Football'' in 1970, it was not added to the Super Bowl rotation until Super Bowl XIX
(1985). ABC, CBS and NBC then continued to rotate the Super Bowl until 1994 when Fox
replaced CBS as the NFC rightsholder. CBS then took NBC's place in the rotation after the former replaced the later as the AFC rightsholder in 1998. As a result of new contracts signed in 2006, with NBC taking over ''Sunday Night Football'' from ESPN
, and ''Monday Night Football'' moving from ABC to ESPN, NBC took ABC's place in the Super Bowl rotation. The rotation between CBS, Fox, and NBC will continue until the new contracts that will take effect in 2023, allowing ABC to return and start a four-network rotation.
The NFL has broken the traditional broadcasting rotation if it can be used to bolster other major sporting events a network airs afterwards.
For example, CBS was given Super Bowl XXVI
(1992) after it won the rights to air the 1992 Winter Olympics
, and NBC then ended up airing Super Bowl XXVII
(1993) and Super Bowl XXVIII
(1994) in consecutive years. Likewise, NBC will air Super Bowl LVI
(2022) instead of CBS when NBC will also broadcast the 2022 Winter Olympics
Super Bowls I–VI were blacked out
in the television markets of the host cities, due to league restrictions then in place. Super Bowl VII was telecast in Los Angeles
on an experimental basis after all tickets were sold ten days prior to the game.
Game analyst John Madden
is the only person to broadcast a Super Bowl for each of the four networks that have televised the game (five with CBS, three with Fox, two with ABC, and one with NBC).
Note: Years listed are the year the game was actually played (''will be played'') rather than what NFL season it is considered to have been.
The Super Bowl provides an extremely strong lead-in to programming following it on the same channel, the effects of which can last for several hours. For instance, in discussing the ratings of a local TV station, Buffalo television critic Alan Pergament noted on the coattails from Super Bowl XLVII, which aired on CBS
: "A paid program
that ran on CBS4 (WIVB-TV
) at 2:30 in the morning had a 1.3 rating. That's higher than some CW
prime time shows get on WNLO-TV
, Channel 4's sister station."
Because of this strong coattail effect, the network that airs the Super Bowl typically takes advantage of the large audience to air an episode of a hit series, or to premiere the pilot of a promising new one in the lead-out slot, which immediately follows the Super Bowl and post-game coverage.
Early Super Bowls featured a halftime show consisting of marching band
s from local colleges
or high schools
; but as the popularity of the game increased, a trend where popular singers and musicians performed during its pre-game ceremonies and the halftime show
, or simply sang the national anthem of the United States
or "America the Beautiful
" emerged. Unlike regular season or playoff games, thirty minutes are allocated for the Super Bowl halftime. After a special live episode of the Fox
sketch comedy series ''In Living Color
'' caused a drop in viewership for the Super Bowl XXVI halftime show, the NFL sought to increase the Super Bowl's audience by hiring A-list talent to perform. They approached Michael Jackson
, whose performance the following year drew higher figures than the game itself.
Another notable performance came during Super Bowl XXXVI
in 2002, when U2
performed; during their third song, "Where the Streets Have No Name
", the band played under a large projection screen which scrolled through names of the victims of the September 11 attacks
For many years, Whitney Houston
of the national anthem at Super Bowl XXV in 1991, during the Gulf War
, had long been regarded as one of the best renditions of the anthem in history.
Prior to Super Bowl XLVIII
, soprano Renee Fleming
became the first opera singer to perform the anthem.
The halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII attracted controversy
, following an incident in which Justin Timberlake
removed a piece of Janet Jackson
's top, briefly exposing one of her breasts before the broadcast quickly cut away from the shot. The incident led to fines being issued by the FCC
(and a larger crackdown over "indecent
" content broadcast on television), and MTV
(then a sister to the game's broadcaster that year, CBS
, under Viacom
) being banned by the NFL from producing the Super Bowl halftime show in the future. In an effort to prevent a repeat of the incident, the NFL held a moratorium on Super Bowl halftime shows featuring pop performers, and instead invited a single, headlining veteran act, such as Paul McCartney
, The Rolling Stones
, The Who
, and Bruce Springsteen
. This practice ended at Super Bowl XLV, which returned to using current pop acts such as The Black Eyed Peas
and Lady Gaga
Excluding Super Bowl XXXIX, the famous "I'm going to Disney World!
" advertising campaign took place in every Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXI, when quarterback Phil Simms
from the Giants became the first player to say the tagline.
As of Super Bowl LV
, 28 of 55 Super Bowls have been played in three metropolitan areas: the Greater Miami area
(eleven times), New Orleans
(ten times), and the Greater Los Angeles area
(seven times). No market or region without an active NFL franchise has ever hosted a Super Bowl, and the presence of an NFL team in a market or region is now a ''de jure
'' requirement for bidding on the game.
For instance while Los Angeles had been a seven time host city with its most recent being Super Bowl XXVII in 1993, it has not hosted one since due to the departure of both its NFL teams in 1995
. The Louisiana Superdome
has hosted seven Super Bowls, the most of any venue. The Orange Bowl
was the only AFL
stadium to host a Super Bowl and the only stadium to host consecutive Super Bowls, hosting Super Bowls II and III.
Seven Super Bowls have been held in a stadium other than the one the NFL team in that city was using at the time, a situation that has not arisen after Super Bowl XXVII's host stadium was selected on March 19, 1991. This was as the winning market was previously not required to host the Super Bowl in the same stadium that its NFL team used, if the stadium in which the Super Bowl was held was perceived to be a better stadium for a large high-profile event than the existing NFL home stadium in the same city; for example Los Angeles's last five Super Bowls were all played at the Rose Bowl
, which has never been used by any NFL franchise outside of the Super Bowl. Besides the Rose Bowl, the only other Super Bowl venues that were not the home stadium to NFL teams at the time were Rice Stadium
(the Houston Oilers
had played in Rice Stadium previously but moved to the Astrodome
several years prior to Super Bowl VIII) and Stanford Stadium
. Starting with the selection of the Super Bowl XXVIII venue on May 23, 1990, the league has given preference in awarding the Super Bowl to brand new or recently renovated NFL stadiums, alongside a trend of teams demanding public money or relocating
to play in new stadiums.
To date only one team has played in a Super Bowl at its home stadium
, the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
, who made it to Super Bowl LV (hosted at the Raymond James Stadium
, selected on May 23, 2017), after winning all their playoff games on the road in the 2020-21 playoffs: at Washington, New Orleans, and Green Bay. Prior to that the closest any team has come to accomplishing this feat were the 2017 Minnesota Vikings
who reached the NFC Championship Game where they lost to the Eagles. In that instance, U.S. Bank Stadium became the first Super Bowl host stadium (selected on May 20, 2014) to also host a Divisional Playoff Game in the same season (which the Vikings won
); all previous times that the Super Bowl host stadium hosted another playoff game in the same postseason were all Wild Card games. Two teams have played the Super Bowl in their home market but at a different venue then their home stadium: the Los Angeles Rams
, who lost Super Bowl XIV in the Rose Bowl instead of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
; and the 49ers, who won Super Bowl XIX in Stanford Stadium
instead of Candlestick Park
, during a time when the league often picked a stadium that was not home to an NFL team to host the Super Bowl (see above),
Traditionally, the NFL does not award Super Bowls to stadiums that are located in climates with an expected average daily temperature less than on game day unless the field can be completely covered by a fixed or retractable roof.
Six Super Bowls have been played in northern cities: two in the Detroit area
—Super Bowl XVI at Pontiac Silverdome
in Pontiac, Michigan
and Super Bowl XL at Ford Field
in Detroit, two in Minneapolis
—Super Bowl XXVI at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
and Super Bowl LII at the U.S. Bank Stadium
, one in Indianapolis
at Lucas Oil Stadium
for Super Bowl XLVI, and one in the New York area
—Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium
. Only MetLife Stadium did not have a roof (be it fixed or retractable) but it was still picked as the host stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII in an apparent waiver of the warm-climate rule, with a contingency plan to reschedule the game in the event of heavy snowfall. MetLife Stadium's selection over Sun Life Stadium
generated controversy as the league requested a roof to be added to Sun Life Stadium (in the event of rainstorms) in order to considered for future Super Bowls.
There have been a few instances where the league has rescinded the Super Bowl from cities. Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 was originally awarded to Sun Devil Stadium
in Tempe, Arizona
, but after Arizona voters elected not to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
as a paid state employees' holiday in 1990, the NFL moved the game to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California
. When voters in Arizona opted to create such a legal holiday in 1992, Super Bowl XXX in 1996 was awarded to Tempe. Super Bowl XXXIII was awarded first to Candlestick Park in San Francisco, but when plans to renovate the stadium fell through, the game was moved to Pro Player Stadium
in greater Miami. Super Bowl XXXVII was awarded to a new stadium not yet built in San Francisco, when that stadium failed to be built, the game was moved to Qualcomm Stadium
in San Diego
. Super Bowl XLIV, slated for February 7, 2010, was withdrawn from New York City
's proposed West Side Stadium
, because the city, state
, and proposed tenants (New York Jets) could not agree on funding. Super Bowl XLIV was then eventually awarded to Hard Rock Stadium
in Miami Gardens, Florida
. Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 was originally given to Arrowhead Stadium
in Kansas City, Missouri
, but after two sales taxes failed to pass at the ballot box (a renovation proposal had passed successfully, but a second ballot question to add a rolling roof structure to be shared with Kaufmann Stadium
critical for the game to be hosted was rejected), and opposition by local business leaders and politicians increased, Kansas City eventually withdrew its request to host the game.
Super Bowl XLIX was then eventually awarded to State Farm Stadium
in Glendale, Arizona
The location of the Super Bowl is chosen at a meeting of all NFL team owners, usually three to five years prior to the event. The game has never been played in a metropolitan area that lacked an NFL franchise at the time the game was played, although in 2007 NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
suggested that a Super Bowl might be played in London
, perhaps at Wembley Stadium
Through Super Bowl LVI, teams were allowed to bid for the rights to host Super Bowls, where cities submitted proposals to host a Super Bowl and were evaluated in terms of stadium renovation and their ability to host, but this competition was rescinded in 2018.
The league has made all decisions regarding hosting sites from Super Bowl LVII onward; the league chose a potential venue unilaterally, the chosen team put together a hosting proposal, and the league voted upon it to determine if it is acceptable.
In 2014, a document listing the specific requirements of Super Bowl hosts was leaked, giving a clear list of what was required for a Super Bowl host. Some of the host requirements include:
* The host stadium must be in a market that hosts an NFL team and must have a minimum of 70,000 seats, with the media and electrical amenities necessary to produce the Super Bowl. Stadiums may include temporary seating for Super Bowls, but seating must be approved by the league. Stadiums where the average game day temperature is below must either have a roof or a waiver given by the league. There must be a minimum of 35,000 parking spaces within one mile of the stadium.
* The host stadium must have space for the Gameday Experience, a large pregame entertainment area, within walking distance of the stadium.
* The host city must have space for the NFL Experience, the interactive football theme park which is operated the week prior to the Super Bowl. An indoor venue for the event must have a minimum of , and an outdoor venue must have a minimum of . Additionally, there must be space nearby for the Media Center, and space for all other events involved in the Super Bowl week, including golf courses and bowling alleys.
* The necessary infrastructure must be in place around the stadium and other Super Bowl facilities, including parking, security, electrical needs, media needs, communication needs, and transportation needs.
* There must be a minimum number of hotel spaces within one hour's drive of the stadium equaling 35% of the stadium's capacity, along with hotels for the teams, officials, media, and other dignitaries. (For Super Bowl XXXIX, the city of Jacksonville docked several luxury cruise liners at their port to act as temporary hotel space.)
* There must be practice space of equal and comparable quality for both teams within a twenty-minute drive of the team hotels, and rehearsal space for all events within a reasonable distance to the stadium. The practice facilities must have one grass field and at least one field of the same surface as the host stadium.
* The stadium must have a minimum of 70,000 fixed seats, including club and fixed suite seating, during regular season operations.
Much of the cost of a Super Bowl is to be assumed by the host community, although some costs are enumerated within the requirements to be assumed by the NFL. New Orleans, the site of Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, invested more than $1 billion in infrastructure improvements in the years leading up to the game.
Home team designation
The designated "home team
" alternates between the NFC team in odd-numbered games and the AFC team in even-numbered games. This alternation was initiated with the first Super Bowl, when the Packers were the designated home team. Regardless of being the home or away team of record, each team has their team logo
painted in one of the end zone
s. Designated away teams have won 30 of 55 Super Bowls to date (approximately 55%).
Since Super Bowl XIII in 1979, the home team is given the choice of wearing their colored or white jerseys
. Originally, the designated home team had to wear their colored jerseys, which resulted in the Cowboys donning their less exposed dark blue jerseys for Super Bowl V. While most of the home teams in the Super Bowl have chosen to wear their colored jerseys, there have been seven exceptions: the Cowboys during Super Bowls XIII and XXVII, the Washington Redskins during Super Bowl XVII, the Steelers during Super Bowl XL, the Broncos during Super Bowl 50, the Patriots in Super Bowl LII and the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. The Cowboys, since , have worn white jerseys at home. The Washington Redskins wore white at home under coach Joe Gibbs
starting in through , continued by Richie Petitbon
and Norv Turner
through , then again when Gibbs returned from through . Meanwhile, the Steelers, who have always worn their black jerseys at home since the AFL–NFL merger in , opted for the white jerseys after winning three consecutive playoff games on the road, wearing white. The Steelers' decision was compared with the Patriots in Super Bowl XX; the Patriots had worn white jerseys at home during the season, but after winning road playoff games against the Jets and Dolphins wearing red jerseys, New England opted to switch to crimson for the Super Bowl as the designated home team. For the Broncos in Super Bowl 50, Denver general manager John Elway simply stated, "We've had Super Bowl success in our white uniforms"; they previously had been in Super Bowls when wearing their orange jerseys. The Broncos' decision is also perceived to be made out of superstition, losing all Super Bowl games with the orange jerseys in terrible fashion. It is unclear why the Patriots chose to wear their white jerseys for Super Bowl LII. During the pairing of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, New England has mostly worn their blue jerseys for home games, but have worn white for a home game in the , , and seasons. The Patriots were 3–0 in their white uniforms in Super Bowls prior to Super Bowl LII with Belichick and Brady, and they may have been going on recent trends of teams who wear white for the Super Bowl game. For Super Bowl LV, when the Buccaneers became the first team to reach the Super Bowl that their own stadium hosted, the Bucs ''coincidentally'' were designated the home team as per AFC-NFC rotation and elected to wear their white jerseys, having previously won both their divisional and championship post-season games on the road in white jerseys. White-shirted teams have won 35 of 55 Super Bowls to date (63%). The only teams to win in their dark-colored uniform in more recent years are the Packers against the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, the Eagles against the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, and the Chiefs against the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV with teams in white winning 13 of the last 16 Super Bowls.
The 49ers, as part of the league's 75th Anniversary celebration, used their 1955 throwback uniform
in Super Bowl XXIX, which for that year was their regular home jersey. The Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII wore their royal blue and yellow throwback uniforms, which they have previously worn for six home games including a home playoff game. No team has yet worn a third jersey
or Color Rush
uniform for the Super Bowl. The 49ers reportedly requested to wear an all-white third jersey ensemble for Super Bowl LIV, which the ''San Francisco Chronicle
'' noted they could do with special permission from the league; the league never granted such permission, and the 49ers instead opted for their standard uniform of white jerseys with gold pants.
Fifteen different regions have hosted Super Bowls.
Note: Years listed are the year the game was actually played (or ''will be played''; future games are denoted through ''italics'') rather than what NFL season it is considered to have been.
A total of 26 different stadiums, seven of which have been since demolished, either have hosted or are scheduled to host Super Bowls. The years listed in the table below are the years the game was actually played (''will be played'') rather than what NFL season it is considered to have been.
The game has never been played in a region that lacked an NFL or AFL franchise at the time the game was played.
[World Series: Why do they call the winners World Champions and when did it start happening?]
San Diego is the only metropolitan area that has hosted past Super Bowls but does not currently have an NFL franchise; what is now SDCCU Stadium
hosted three Super Bowls prior to that city losing its NFL franchise to relocation
. Also, London, England
, has occasionally been mentioned as a host city for a Super Bowl in the near future. Wembley Stadium
has hosted several NFL games as part of the NFL International Series
and is specifically designed for large, individual events. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has openly discussed the possibility on different occasions.
complications are a significant obstacle to a Super Bowl in London; a typical 6:30 p.m. EST
start would result in the game beginning at 11:30 p.m. local time in London
, an unusually late hour to be holding spectator sports (the NFL has never in its history started a game later than 9:15 p.m. local time).
Although bids have been submitted for all Super Bowls through Super Bowl LIX, the soonest that any stadium outside the NFL's footprint could serve as host would be Super Bowl LVIII
Seven stadiums that hosted a Super Bowl game no longer exist. Tulane Stadium
, on the Tulane University
campus, which hosted three Super Bowls, was demolished in November 1979; Tampa Stadium
, which hosted two Super Bowls, was demolished in April 1999; Stanford Stadium
, which hosted one Super Bowl, was demolished and redeveloped in 2005–06; the Orange Bowl
, which hosted five Super Bowls, was demolished in May 2008; the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
in Minneapolis, which hosted one Super Bowl, was demolished in March 2014; the Georgia Dome
, which hosted two Super Bowls, was demolished in November 2017; and the Pontiac Silverdome
in suburban Detroit, which hosted one Super Bowl, was demolished in March 2018, five months following the demolition of the Georgia Dome. SDCCU Stadium, which was a three-time Super Bowl host, closed in March 2020 and is scheduled to be demolished in early 2021.
Super Bowl trademark
The NFL very actively seeks to prevent what it calls unauthorized commercial use of its trademarked terms "NFL", "Super Bowl", and "Super Sunday
". As a result, many events and promotions tied to the game, but not sanctioned by the NFL, are asked to refer to it with euphemisms such as "The Big Game", or other generic descriptions. A radio spot for Planters
nuts parodied this, by saying "it would be ''super''... to have a ''bowl''... of Planters nuts while watching the big game!" and comedian Stephen Colbert
began referring to the game in 2014 as the "Superb Owl". In 2015, the NFL filed opposition with the USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to a trademark application submitted by an Arizona-based nonprofit for "Superb Owl". The NFL claims that the use of the phrase "Super Bowl" implies an NFL affiliation, and on this basis the league asserts broad rights to restrict how the game may be shown publicly; for example, the league says Super Bowl showings are prohibited in churches or at other events that "promote a message", while venues that do not regularly show sporting events cannot show the Super Bowl on any television screen larger than 55 inches.
Some critics say the NFL is exaggerating its ownership rights by stating that "any use is prohibited", as this contradicts the broad doctrine of fair use in the United States
Legislation was proposed by Utah
Senator Orrin Hatch
in 2008 "to provide an exemption from exclusive rights in copyright for certain nonprofit organizations to display live football games", and "for other purposes".
In 2004, the NFL started issuing cease-and-desist letters to casinos in Las Vegas that were hosting Super Bowl parties. "Super Bowl" is a registered trademark, owned by the NFL, and any other business using that name for profit-making ventures is in violation of federal law, according to the letters. In reaction to the letters, many Vegas resorts, rather than discontinue the popular and lucrative parties, started referring to them as "Big Game Parties".
In 2006, the NFL made an attempt to trademark "The Big Game" as well; however, it withdrew the application in 2007 due to growing commercial and public relations opposition to the move, mostly from Stanford University
and the University of California, Berkeley
and their fans, as the Stanford Cardinal football
and California Golden Bears football
teams compete in the ''Big Game
'', which has been played since 1892 (28 years before the formation of the NFL and 75 years before Super Bowl I
). Additionally, the Mega Millions
lottery game was known as ''The Big Game'' (then ''The Big Game Mega Millions'') from 1996 to 2002.
* Grey Cup
, the Canadian equivalent of the Super Bowl hosted by the Canadian Football League
* History of National Football League championship
* List of NFL champions (1920–1969)
* List of NFL franchise post-season droughts
* List of NFL franchise post-season streaks
* List of quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl starts
* List of Super Bowl champions
* List of players with most Super Bowl championships
* List of Super Bowl broadcasters
* List of Super Bowl head coaches
* List of Super Bowl officials
* List of Super Bowl records
* NFL Honors
* Super Bowl advertising
* Super Bowl counterprogramming
* Super Bowl curse
* Super Bowl indicator
* Chris Jones (February 2, 2005). "NFL tightens restrictions on Super Bowl advertisements". ''Las Vegas Review-Journal''.
* John Branch (February 4, 2006). "Build It and They Will Come". ''The New York Times''.
Super Bowl play-by-plays
from ''USA Today
''. Retrieved September 28, 2005.
100 Greatest Super Bowl Moments
by Kevin Jackson, Jeff Merron, and David Schoenfield; espn.com
. Retrieved October 31, 2005.
* Various Authors—"SI's 25 Lost Treasures"—''Sports Illustrated
'', July 11, 2005 p. 114.
* "The Super Bowl I–VII." Lost Treasures of NFL Films. ESPN2. January 26, 2001.
* "MTV's Super Bowl Uncensored". MTV. January 27, 2001.
* "Talk Shows." CBS: 50 Years from Television City. CBS. April 27, 2002.
Category:National Football League
Category:American Football League
Category:American annual television specials
Category:Annual sporting events in the United States
Category:Annual television shows
Category:National Football League playoffs
Category:American Football League playoffs
Category:Recurring sporting events established in 1967
Category:Winter events in the United States