Breaking down all-time best Super Bowl halftime shows

Katy Perry drew the largest-ever audience for Super Bowl halftime performers with 118.5 million viewers in 2015. (David J. Phillip/AP)

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 edition of Sportsnet magazine.

When Carolina and Denver retreat for the locker rooms halfway through SB 50 this Sunday, British rockers Coldplay will take centre stage. And though they may seem like a less-than-natural fit for America’s game, there are plenty of ways to evaluate Super Bowl halftime performers.

Here are five:


1 Paul McCartney, SB XXXIX 325.2 million**
2 Michael Jackson, SB XXVII 176.9 million
3 Madonna, SB XLVI 168.6 million
4 Katy Perry, SB XLIX 117.1 million
5 U2, SB XXXVI 103.8 million


1 Shania Twain, No Doubt and Sting, XB XXXVII 46 points (Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21)
2 Gloria Estefan, Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill, SB XXVI 44 (Washington 37, Buffalo 24)
3 Southern California–area high-school drill teams and dancers, SB XXI 40 (NY Giants 39, Denver 20)
4 Beyoncé and Destiny's Child, SB XLVII 38 (Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31)
5 Tony Bennett, Patt LaBelle, Arturo Sandoval and Miami Sound Machine, SB XXIX 37 (San Francisco, 49, San Diego 26)


1 Paul McCartney, SB XXXIX 29
2 Michael Jackson, SB XXVII 17
3 Madonna, SB XLVI 12
T-4 Stevie Wonder, SB XXXIII 10
T-4 Janet Jackson, SB XXXVIII 10


1 Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and Wynonna and Naomi Judd, SB XXVIII Down 7, win by 17 (Dallas 30, Buffalo 13)
2 Los Angeles Super Drill Team, SB XVII Down 7, win by 10 (Washington 27, Miami 17)
3 Anita Bryant and the Southeast Missouri State Band, SB V Down 7, win by 3 (Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas 13)
4 The Who, SB XLIV Down 4, win by 14 (New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17)
5 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, SB XLII Down 4, win by 3 (NY Giants 17, New England 14)


1 Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot, SB XLIX 118.5 million
2 Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers, SB XLVIII 115.3 million
3 Madonna, LMFAO, MIA, CeeLo Green and Nicki Minaj, SB XLVI 114.0 million
4 Beyoncé and Destiny's Child, SB XLVII 110.8 million
5 Black Eyed Peas, SB XLV 110.2 million

*Certified sales from available markets
**Includes The Beatles