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The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the highest level of professional football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather than the year in which it is held. For example, Super Bowl I was played on January 15, 1967, following the regular season played in 1966, while Super Bowl XLV will be played on February 6, 2011, to determine the champion of the 2010 regular season.
The Super Bowl is among the most watched sporting events in the world, primarily due to mostly North American audiences, and is second to soccer's UEFA Champions League final as the most watched annual sporting event worldwide.
The game was created as part of a merger agreement between the NFL and its then-rival league, the American Football League (AFL). It was agreed that the two leagues' champion teams would play in an AFL–NFL World Championship Game until the merger was to officially begin in 1970. After the merger, each league was redesignated as a "conference", and the game was then played between the conference champions.
The day on which the Super Bowl is played is now considered a de facto American national holiday,called "Super Bowl Sunday". It is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day.
In most years, the Super Bowl is the most-watched American television broadcast; Super Bowl XLIV, played on February 7, 2010 between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts, became the most-watched
American television program in history, drawing an average audience of 106.5 million viewers and taking over the spot held for twenty-seven years by the final episode of M*A*S*H.
Because of its high viewership, commercial airtime during the Super Bowl broadcast is the most expensive of the year. Due to the high cost of investing in advertising on the Super Bowl, companies regularly develop their most expensive advertisements for this broadcast. As a result, watching and discussing the broadcast's commercials has become a significant aspect of the event.
In addition, many popular singers and musicians have performed during the event's pre-game and halftime ceremonies because of the exposure.