UPDATE 11:30AM: The viewership numbers for CBS’ coverage of the AFC Championship just came out, and they are huge. The Pittsburgh Steelers win over New York Jets last night was the most-watched ever with an average viewership of 54.9 million viewers. The game blew past the previous record posted in 1982 by San Diego vs. Cincinnati (51.6 million).
PREVIOUS 8:15 AM: A red-hot NFL television season got even hotter last night when the 2011 AFC Championship Game on CBS, in which the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the New York Jets to reach the Super Bowl, drew a 31.3 overnight rating/46 share. This was the highest rating in the metered markets for the AFC Championship game in 24 years, since the 31.9 for the Denver-Cleveland face-off on NBC in 1987. Compared to last year, the Steelers-Jets match-up was up 10% from the early-game broadcast of the AFC Championship Game which also saw the Jets losing, that time to Indianapolis.
The highly-rated game provided great sampling for freshman CBS drama Hawaii Five-0, which aired a special Tsunami-themed episode after the game. The reboot of the classic cop series drew 19.23 million viewers and a 5.6 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic, easily the show’s best marks to date. Compared to CBS’ The Mentalist, which aired after the AFC Championship Game 2 years ago, Hawaii Five-0 was up 18% in viewers and 22% in 18-49 boosted by a stronger football lead-in.
The other networks stayed mostly out of the way last night, with ABC airing repeats of its Sunday dramas and an original Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (1.9/5 in 18-49, down 5% from last week, and NBC running an encore presentation of the first Sex and the City movie (0.9/2). Meanwhile, Fox’s male-skewing comedies held up well against the big game. An original American Dad (2.2/5) at 7:30 PM was up 29% from last week as its lead-in, a Simpsons repeat (2.1/5) almost doubled its rating from last Sunday. A new Simpsons at 8 PM (3.1/7) was flat, Bob’s Burgers (2.2/5) at 8:30 PM was down 12% as the freshman series is yet to bottom out, and a fresh Cleveland Show (2.4/5) at 9:30 PM was down 11% as it followed a repeat Family Guy (2.5/5) at 9 PM vs. an original last week.