The 20 Most Watched Super Bowls in History

Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003

Just about everyone on the face of the planet it seems has at least heard of the Super Bowl. In America, it is likely that just about every household in the country has at least one person watching the game on that particular Sunday evening. This is why the Super Bowl is one of the watched events in television history. Consistently. Every year. Of course, some games are more watched than others, so you might wonder which ones in history have been the most watched. Here is a list of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in history.

Super Bowl XIX

20. Super Bowl XIX in 1985 – 85.5 Million Viewers

This game pitted two of the best quarterbacks that the game has ever seen in Joe Montana and Dan Marino. That alone might explain why so many people tuned in. The Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers had the two best records that season, so it was only fitting that they would meet in the final game. The outcomes, however, was not close at all. The 49ers would easily prevail. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XXXIX

19. Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005 – 86.1 Million Viewers

It is hard to believe that we go all the way back to 2005 and this was already Tom Brady’s third Super Bowl victory. This was a game between two wildly popular teams in the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. It would attract over 86 million viewers. The game was close, providing much entertainment to fans on both sides. In the end, The patriots seemed to have too many weapons and would come out on top by a score of 24-21. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XXXVI

18. Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 – 86.8 Million Viewers

This particular Super Bowl would mark the first that Tom Brady would play in. He was going against Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams. This s was a team that many thought was unstoppable. It would attract nearly 87 million viewers who wanted to see which quarterback could come out on top in the end. The Rams go into an early hole of two touchdowns but would fight back to actually tie the game. The Patriots, however, would go on would of their patented end of game drives to win the game by a field goal. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XXI

17. Super Bowl XXI in 1987 – 87.2 Million Viewers

With more than 87 million people tuning in, the 1987 Super Bowl became the 17th most watched in history. This would be a game featuring John Elway at the helm for the Denver Broncos goings against Bill Parcels and his New York Giants. Both of these teams have huge fan bases, which helps to explain the enthusiasm for the game. The game was very close at halftime, but the Giants would use a second half surge to win by a commanding score of 39-20. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XXXI

16. Super Bowl XXXI in 1997 – 87.9 Million Viewers

The 1997 Super Bowl pitted the New England Patriots before the Tom Brady era would begin against the Green Bay Packers. NFL fans know that means that Brett Favre would be the quarterback, and he excelled in this game. The Packers would win quite handily. This game attracted almost 88 million viewers thanks to both teams being such lucrative markets. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XXXIV

15. Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000 – 88.5 Million Viewers

Not only was the 2000 Super Bowl one of the most watched in history, but it would also end up being one of the best games in recent memory as well. The finish was spectacular. The St. Louis Rams were playing the Tennessee Titans in what would be the first such appearance in the big game for the Titans. The Rams would win by a score of 23-16 as the Titans would end up just one yard short of the goal line on the final play of the game. That would have set up a potentially game tying extra point. More than 88 million people tuned in for this game. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003

14. Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 – 88.6 Million Viewers

This game might not have had teams from the biggest markets with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing the Oakland Raiders, but the fact that nearly 89 million people tuned in to watch speaks to the power of the game. Jon Gruden was coaching the Buccaneers at the time and would end up easily beating his former Raiders team by a score of 48-21. The Buccaneers would actually intercept the Raiders five times in this game, which is a Super Bowl record. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004

13. Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004 – 89.8 Million Viewers

The 2004 Super Bowl was yet another entry for the Tom Brady era, and he would notch yet another win. It seems that he likes suspenseful gams, as this one also went to the last second with a field goal securing the win. This was also the game that had the controversial half time show where Janet Jackson had a ‘wardrobe malfunction’. One has to wonder if this increased viewership in future years to see if there would be a repeat performance! This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994

12. Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994 – 90.0 Million Viewers

With 90 million people watching, the 1994 Super Bowl would be one for the record books as well. This was a game that pitted the Buffalo Bills, with one of the weakest fan bases in the NFL, against the Dallas Cowboys and their strong following. The game was not even close. While Buffalo did lead by a touchdown at halftime, the Cowboys would go on a 24-0 run in the second half to win the game. Emmitt Smith would rush for 132 yards and two touchdowns in this game. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

super bowl 1998

11. Super Bowl XXXII in 1998 – 90.1 Million Viewers

With just over 90 million viewers tuning for this Super Bowl in 1998, it would also be one the 20 most watched ever. It was the Denver Broncos against the Green Bay Packers, two teams with amazing followings. The game would not disappoint and would live up to the hype. In the end, John Elway finally would get his Super Bowl ring by winning 31-24. Terrell Davis would rush for 157 yards and three touchdowns in this game. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super BOwl 2006

10. Super Bowl XL in 2006 – 90.7 Million Viewers

The tenth most watched Super Bowl in history would be between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks. Well over 90 million people would watch this one, which ended up in a victory for the Steelers by a score of 21-10. Hines Ward would be the MVP of this Super Bowl on the heels of his 141 total yards and the touchdown that he scored. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XXVII in 1993

9. Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 – 91 Million Viewers

The ninth most watched Super Bowl in history would also end up being one of the most lopsided championship games ever played. This was yet another matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys, and the Bills would not fare very well at all. The result was 52-17 in favor of the Cowboys, and it really was not even that close. The Bills committed nine turnovers in this game, which is a record that they are not very proud of. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XX in 1986

8. Super Bowl XX in 1986 – 92.6 Million Viewers

This was a game between the Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots. It was this Bears team that many people think is the best team ever assembled. The way that they dismantled the Patriots by a score of 46-10 would support that contention. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XLI in 2007

7. Super Bowl XLI in 2007 – 93.2 Million Viewers

The 2007 Super Bowl would finally see Peyton Manning get his ring. This was the Indianapolis Colts against the Chicago Bears. The final score would be 29-17, on the heels of a game that had Manning near perfection. It also helped that the defense was stellar, as the Colts would force five turnovers. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

1996 super bowl

6. Super Bowl XXX in 1996 – 94.1 Million Viewers

The 1996 Super Bowl would be played against two of the most popular franchises in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers. This would help explain why over 94 million people would watch. The game would end 27-17, with the Cowboys coming out on top. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XLII in 2008

5. Super Bowl XLII in 2008 – 97.4 Million Viewers

The Super Bowl in 2008 seemed to be a sure thing for the Patriots. They were coming off a perfect season of 16-0. The Giants were a Wildcard from the NFC. You can probably guess how that turned out. The Giants would end up winning a wildly entertaining game 17-14. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XLIII in 2009

4. Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 – 98.7 Million Viewers

The Arizona Cardinals would be in their first Super Bowl since 1947 in 2009 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Many called this David vs. Goliath. Few even gave the Cardinals a chance, yet nearly 99 million people would watch Kurt Warner duke it out against Ben Roethlisberger. It was a great game, with the Steelers finally coming out on top thanks to a last minute touchdown. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XLIV in 2010

3. Super Bowl XLIV in 2010 – 106.5 Million Viewers

The 2010 Super Bowl would be the first game to top 100 million viewers. It was a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts. The Saints would end up winning comfortably by a score of 31-17. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XLV in 2011

2. Super Bowl XLV in 2011 – 111 Million Viewers

The 2011 Super Bowl would continue the uptick in viewers, surpassing the 111 million mark. It was a game that featured the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Aaron Rodgers would lead the Packers to victory be a score of 31-25, throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns in the process. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game.

Super Bowl XLVI in 2012

1. Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 – 111.3 Million Viewers

The most watched Super Bowl in history thus far occurred in 2012. It would be Eli Manning and his New York Giants against the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. The Giants would end up winning a nail biter by the score of 21-17. This made it one of the 20 most watched Super Bowls in the history of the game. So, there you have it. These have been the 20 most watched Super Bowls in history. Most of them are from the past few decades. One has to wonder if more games from early on the Super Bowl would be on the list if more people had televisions back then. Who knows. For now, this is where we stand. When will the first Super Bowl with 125 million viewers happen? Stay tuned.


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