Updated: 10 highest-rated Super Bowls in television history

Super Bowl XLVII, seen on CBS Sunday night, tied for ninth place on Nielsen’s Super Bowl ratings list with a 46.3 rating and 69 share of the television audience.

TV’s 10 highest-rated Super Bowls, updated through Sunday:

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In Super Bowl XIV, the Pittsburgh Steelers took their fourth world championship with a 31-19 win over the Los Angeles Rams. The telecast helped CBS win the 1979-80 Nielsen ratings battle over ABC, which had been the top network for three straight seasons.

The Ravens-49ers game is tied with the CBS broadcast of Super Bowl XIV, which generated a 46.3 and 67 share on Jan. 20, 1980, as the Pittsburgh Steelers prevailed over the Los Angeles Rams 31-19.

Once again it is clear that no event can galvanize audiences in quite the way that was possible 30-35 years ago when the Big Three networks were at their height, before cable became a true force and so many other electronic diversions were available. This is not meant to disparage today’s TV universe; greater choice has been a significant blessing.

In its Jan. 23, 1980 edition, Variety reported that CBS was propelled by Super Bowl XIV to a fifth straight win in the weekly Nielsen race, with a 22.5 average, with ABC second at 20.2 and NBC, very much in the throes of its terrible Fred Silverman era, at a  distant 16.2.

With the victory, the trade publication said, CBS “occupied first place in the season-to-date averages for the first time in the regular season measurements since April 18, 1976.”

As explained in the last post on Super Bowl ratings, ABC had dominated this period with its family-friendly lineup. However, CBS, which had ruled the TV landscape during a 20-year period before ABC’s rise to the top in ’76, regained its throne in the 1979-80 season, as the newsmagazine “60 Minutes,” which had been on the air since 1968, became the No. 1 show on television and “Dallas,” in its third season, jumped to the No. 6 spot.  All but two of the top 10 shows for the season were CBS programs.



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