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What Were TV’s Highest Rated Super Bowls Of All Time?

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Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

I think we can agree that two things will drive people to watch the Super Bowl on TV. The hopes for an outstanding contest between teams and fun commercials.

The more expectations go up on these two things, the bigger the TV audience. Plus some other points of interest, such as something about a particular player, will add even more.

All the diehard football fans are naturally tuned in each year. But the big numbers come when the casual or even the non-fan watches the game due to hype.

Based on TV viewership, here are the Highest Rated Super Bowls Of All Time:

  1. Super Bowl XLVII – Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers (2013) Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis’ last NFL contest, one of the most recognizable franchises in history, the 49ers, Beyonce at halftime, a power outage that nearly blew-up social media and a contest that came down to a final drive by San Francisco, all were factors driving last year’s game to the top.
  2. Super Bowl XX – Chicago Bears vs. New England Patriots (1986) One of the worst games of all time. The Bears ran away with a 46-10 victory. There was hype for this one before the game with ‘The Super Bowl Shuffle’ by the Chicago Bears.
  3. Super Bowl XLVI – New York Giants vs. New England Patriots (2012) The broadcast of the game on NBC broke the record for the most-watched program in American television history, previously set during the previous year’s Super Bowl. Super Bowl XLVI was watched by an estimated average audience of 111.3 million US viewers and an estimated total audience of 166.8 million, according to Nielsen, meaning that over half of the American population watched at least some of the initial broadcast. The game also set the record for most tweets per second during a sporting event, with 13.7 million tweets. The Giants defeated the Patriots by the score of 21–17 in a rematch of the 2008 Super Bowl in which the Giants also won. Some believe the audience was so huge because a lot of people were hoping to see the Patriots lose.
  4. Super Bowl XLV – Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (2011) Two of the winningest franchises in NFL history definitely weighed in on the interest of seeing this game. One of the better games of all time didn’t disappoint the 111 million viewers. The Packers defeated the Steelers by the score of 31–25.
  5. Super Bowl XXI - New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos (1987) A quarterback only in his fourth NFL season by the name of John Elway of Denver went up against ‘The Big Blue Wrecking Crew’ defense of the Giants. After a tight first half, New York won the game by the score of 39–20. It was the Giants’ first ever Super Bowl win.

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