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. 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 before 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.