Recent trend: six out of last seven Super Bowls set viewership records


Whether you want to chalk it up to gambling, big screen HDTVs, the genius of NFL marketing or something else, the Super Bowl setting viewership records year after year has become the expectation. So much so that NBC is on record saying that it will be a “huge disappointment” if this year’s Super Bowl doesn’t top last  year’s 112.2 million viewership average to set another record.

We think that’s a pretty high expectation to have before you even know what teams are going to be in the Super Bowl, but with six of the last seven Super Bowls setting viewership records, maybe it’s not so nuts.

The lone outlier was Ravens/49ers in 2013 with a “measly” 108.4 million.  We doubt the advertisers or CBS were crying too much about that. The lengthy power outage in New Orleans hurt the average, but they got more than an extra 30 minutes of TV time averaging more than 100 million people.

This trend of setting new records practically every year is recent and has never happened before to this degree. Super Bowl XX (1986 Bears-Patriots) averaged 92.6 million. That record stood for 10 years  until Dallas-Pittsburgh in 1996 averaged 94.1 million.  That record stood for 12 years until Super Bowl XLII (2008 Giants-Patriots) drew 97.4 million to begin the current six out of seven streak.

Here’s the historic viewership/household ratings via Nielsen: (here’s the update w/the 2015 numbers included).

Super BowlDateNetworkHousehold ratingAvg. no. of homes (000s)Avg. no. of persons 2+ (000s)Teams (winners in capitals)
XLVIIIFeb. 2, 2014FOX46.754,079112,191SEATTLE vs. Denver
XLVIIFeb. 3, 2013CBS46.352,881108,414BALTIMORE vs. San Francisco
XLVIFeb. 5, 2012NBC47.153,910111,346NEW YORK GIANTS vs. New England
XLVFeb. 6 2011FOX4653,282111,041GREEN BAY vs. Pittsburgh.
XLIVFeb. 7 2010CBS4551,728106,476NEW ORLEANS vs. Indianapolis
XLIIIFeb. 1 2009NBC4248,13998,732Arizona vs. PITTSBURGH
XLIIFeb. 3 2008FOX43.148,66597,448NEW YORK GIANTS vs. New England
XLIFeb. 4 2007CBS42.647,50593,184Chicago vs. INDIANAOPOLIS
XLFeb. 5 2006ABC41.645,86790,745Seattle vs. PITTSBURGH
XXXIXFeb. 6 2005FOX41.145,08186,072Philadelphia vs. NEW ENGLAND
XXXVIIIFeb. 1 2004CBS41.444,90889,795Carolina vs. NEW ENGLAND
XXXVIIJan. 26 2003ABC40.743,43388,637TAMPA BAY vs. Oakland
XXXVIFeb. 3 2002FOX40.442,66486,801St. Louis vs. NEW ENGLAND
XXXVJan. 28 2001CBS40.441,27084,335NY Giants vs. BALTIMORE
XXXIVJan. 30 2000ABC43.343,61888,465ST. LOUIS vs. Tennessee
XXXIIIJan. 31 1999FOX40.239,99283,720Atlanta vs. DENVER
XXXIIJan. 25 1998NBC44.543,63090,000GREEN BAY vs. Denver
XXXIJan. 26 1997FOX43.342,00087,870GREEN BAY vs. New England
XXXJan. 28 1996NBC4644,14594,080DALLAS vs. Pittsburgh
XXIXJan. 29 1995ABC41.339,40083,420SAN FRANCISCO vs. San Diego
XXVIIIJan. 30 1994NBC45.542,86090,000DALLAS vs. Buffalo
XXVIIJan. 31 1993NBC45.141,99090,990DALLAS vs. Buffalo
XXVIJan. 26 1992CBS40.337,12079,590WASHINGTON vs. Buffalo
XXVJan. 27 1991ABC41.939,01079,510NEW YORK GIANTS vs. Buffalo
XXIVJan. 28 1990CBS3935,92073,852SAN FRANCISCO vs. Denver
XXIIIJan. 22 1989NBC43.539,32081,590SAN FRANCISCO vs. Cincinnati
XXIIJan. 31 1988ABC41.937,12080,140WASHINGTON vs. Denver
XXIJan. 25 1987CBS45.840,03087,190NEW YORK GIANTS vs. Denver
XXJan. 26 1986NBC48.341,49092,570CHICAGO vs. New England
XIXJan. 20 1985ABC46.439,39085,530SAN FRANCISCO vs. Miami
XVIIIJan. 22 1984CBS46.438,88077,620Washington vs. LA RAIDERS
XVIIJan. 30 1983NBC48.640,48081,770WASHINGTON vs. Miami
XVIJan. 24 1982CBS49.140,02085,240SAN FRANCISCO vs. Cincinnati
XVJan. 25 1981NBC44.434,54068,290Philadelphia vs. OAKLAND
XIVJan. 20 1980CBS46.335,33076,240LA Rams vs. PITTSBURGH
XIIIJan. 21 1979NBC47.135,09074,740Dallas vs. PITTSBURGH
XIIJan. 15 1978CBS47.234,41078,940DALLAS vs. Denver
XIJan. 09 1977NBC44.431,61062,050Minnesota vs. OAKLAND
XJan. 18 1976CBS42.329,44057,710Dallas vs. PITTSBURGH
IXJan. 12 1975NBC42.429,04056,050Minnesota vs. PITTSBURGH
VIIIJan. 13 1974CBS41.627,54051,700Minnesota vs. MIAMI
VIIJan. 14 1973NBC42.727,67053,320Washington vs. MIAMI
VIJan. 16 1972CBS44.227,45056,640DALLAS vs. Miami
VJan. 17 1971NBC39.923,98046,040Dallas vs. BALTIMORE
IVJan. 11 1970CBS39.423,05044,270Minnesota vs. KANSAS CITY
IIIJan. 12 1969NBC3620,52041,660Baltimore vs. NY JETS
IIJan. 14 1968CBS36.820,61039,120GREEN BAY vs. Oakland
IJan. 15 1967CBS22.612,41026,750GREEN BAY vs. Kansas City
IJan. 15 1967NBC18.510,16024,430GREEN BAY vs. Kansas City

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