NFL Ratings Roundup: Steelers-Broncos Hit Near Record, Cards-Packers Is Best Saturday Primetime Divisional Game Ever

THE NFL ON CBS’s broadcast of the Steelers-Broncos AFC Divisional Playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 17 (4:40-7:56 PM, ET) was seen by an average of 43.0 million viewers (Persons 2+), up +3% from last year’s 41.8 million (Indianapolis-Denver; 1/11/15, 4:40-7:53 PM, ET on CBS) and is the second-largest viewer average for a Sunday AFC Divisional Playoff game on any network in 29 years (as far back as CBS records go, 1987-88 season, behind only 43.5 million N.Y. Jets-New England; 1/16/11; CBS). Pittsburgh-Denver scored an average fast-national household rating/share (Live + Same Day) of 23.6/41, up +1% from last year’s 23.3/39 (Indianapolis-Denver). Sunday’s 23.6/41 is the second-highest-rated Sunday AFC Divisional Playoff game in 20 years (25.4/42 Indianapolis-Kansas City; 1/7/96; NBC). The average viewership and rating/share peaked for the Steelers-Broncos game with 49.1 million viewers and a 26.6/42 (7:30-7:56 PM, ET), respectively…

NFL_ON_CBS_2013_logo…CBS could not match that level of success with Saturday’s Chiefs-Patriots NFL Divisional Round game, which earned 31.5 million viewers on CBS – down 7% from Ravens/Patriots on NBC last year (34.0M) but up 1% from Saints/Seahawks on FOX in 2014 (31.1M). Ratings were not immediately available. The Patriots’ win was the least-watched game of Divisional Round weekend. (SMW)…

…Although it failed to match last year’s record setting Dallas Cowboys – Green Bay Packers NFC playoff divisional matchup (24.9/48 with 44.4 million viewers), Sunday’s early NFL Divisional Playoff between the No. 1 seed Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks on FOX scored a solid 21.1/42 fast national rating/share – in line with the average of the previous three years for the 1:00 PM ET Sunday NFC Divisional Game on FOX (21.4/42 – 36.6 million viewers). Sunday’s game opened with a 16.7/37 at 1:00 PM ET and peaked with a 24.4/45 and 43.0 million viewers from 4:00 PM ET to the games conclusion at 4:21 PM ET as Carolina held off a fierce comeback by Seattle to win the game and advance to the NFC Championship. Seattle earned a 48.1/82, while Charlotte put up a 46.8/74.

On FOX Sports GO, Seattle vs. Carolina NFC Divisional Game ranked as the best authenticated NFL game ever, with 154,000 unique streamers, making it the fifth most-watched authenticated event in FOX Sports GO’s history…

The Arizona Cardinals’ dramatic 26-20 overtime victory against the Green Bay Packers in Saturday’s NFC Divisional Playoff game on NBC posted an 18.8/33 household rating to rank as the highest-rated Saturday primetime Divisional game ever (according to Nielsen Fast Nationals; the NFL introduced primetime Saturday Divisional Playoff games in the 2001 season). In addition, NBC’s Packers-Cardinals NFC Divisional Playoff telecast (8:16-11:41 p.m. ET) averaged 33.7 million viewers to rank as the second-most watched Saturday primetime Divisional ever (34.2 million viewers for Broncos-Patriots game on CBS; Jan. 14, 2012). The household rating and viewership for Packers-Cardinals both are up 9% over last year’s primetime Saturday NFC Divisional Playoff (17.2/29 and 31.0 million viewers for Panthers-Seahawks on FOX). Viewership peaked at 38.7 million (21.8/40 rating) for the game’s dramatic conclusion from 11:15-11:41pm ET, featuring Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary to tie the score on the final play of regulation and the Cardinal thrilling score just minutes into overtime to win the game…

…For its two January 2016 playoff games, NBC averaged 34.5 million viewers, a 19.8/37 household rating, and a 10.6 rating in the coveted Adult 18-49 demographic – records for NBC in all three metrics since acquiring the Sunday Night Football package in 2006, and up 11%, 11% and 8% respectively from last year (31.2 million viewers, 17.9/32 HH rating, 9.8 Adult 18-49 rating). NBC’s Wild Card telecast on January 10 – Seattle’s down-to-the-wire 10-9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings – averaged 35.4 million viewers to rank as the most-watched early Sunday Wild Card on record (People Meter history dates to 1988).

NBC Sports Live Extra’s presentation of Packers-Cardinals totaled 23.7 million live streaming minutes – Live Extra’s best ever for a non-Olympic authenticated event. In addition, the 23.7 million minutes streamed is Live Extra’s most streamed NFL postseason game ever (excluding Super Bowls) and is up 74% from last year’s NBC Saturday Divisional Playoff game (13.6 million live minutes for Ravens-Patriots)…

…Up North, All four NFL Divisional Playoff games were Canada’s Top 4 programs of the weekend, attracting an average audience of 1.6 million viewers to CTV, an increase of 15% over last yea (according to overnights). The most-watched program of the weekend saw an average audience of 1.8 million viewers tune in to CTV to watch the resurgent Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Saturday evening’s instant classic matchup that saw the Arizona Cardinals secure an epic overtime win over the Green Bay Packers attracted an average audience of 1.6 million viewers to CTV, becoming the day’s most-watched program and up 77% compared to the highest non-NFL broadcast. Seattle @ Carolina drew 1.5 million viewers on CTV, while Kansas City @ New England drew 1.5 million viewers on CTV. Overall, 15 million unique Canadian viewers have tuned into CTV, TSN, and RDS for the networks’ complete live coverage of the NFL Playoffs….

Ratings Odds and Ends
Super Bowl 1: The Lost Game on Friday, January 15 was NFL Network’s most-watched original program to air in prime this season with an average audience of 558,000 viewers…

…FS1 notched its most-watched non-PPV PRELIMS to date, and second-most watched UFC FIGHT NIGHT ever with FS1 UFC FIGHT NIGHT: DILLASHAW VS. CRUZ on Jan. 17. The telecast averaged 2.288 million viewers and 1.410 million in Adults 18-49, placing it second in average viewership to last January’s UFC FIGHT NIGHT: MCGREGOR VS. SIVER (2,751,000). It was also the most-watched show on ad-supported cable television that evening from 8:00 PM ET – 1:00 AM ET in both viewership and in the A18-49 demographic. Viewership for Sunday’s FS1 main event peaked in the 10:45 PM ET – 11:00 PM ET quarter-hour with 2.464 million viewers. The UFC FIGHT NIGHT PRELIMS averaged 1.767 million viewers and 1.025 million in the A18-49 demo from 8:00 PM ET – 10:00 PM ET, making it the most-watched non-PPV Prelim card in FS1 history in both metrics. Following the fight from 12:40 AM ET – 1:00 AM ET, FOX SPORTS LIVE saw exponential increases over its January average in the corresponding time slot, delivering 1,454,000 viewers and 929,000 in the A18-49, 599% greater than last January on viewership (vs. 208,000) and 609% better on A18-49 (vs. 131,000). The FS1 UFC FIGHT NIGHT PREFIGHT SHOW posted 312,000 viewers from 7:00 PM ET – 8:00 PM ET.