It turns out the season premiere of NBC‘s Sunday Night Football featuring Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos against the Pittsburgh Steelers was the highest-rated SNF ever. It pulled in a 16.5/29 rating. The previous titleholder was last season’s final-week deciding game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, which drew a 15.7/25. With an audience of 27.57 million, this weekend’s game, which saw Manning’s debut with Denver, was the second-most-watched regular-season primetime game ever on NBC. (Last year’s Cowboys-Giants game drew 27.62 million viewers. This year’s SNF opener was up 8% in household ratings and 7% in viewership over last year’s Cowboys-New York Jets SNF opener, which earned a 15.3/25 rating and 25.8 million viewers.
This Sunday’s Broncos-Steelers game did tie 2010’s NFL Kickoff between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints as the highest-rated regular season game on any network in almost 14 years and the highest rated ever for NBC. The October 5, 1998 game that ABC broadcasted between the Vikings and the Green Bay Packers got a 16.8/27. This Sunday’s 11.0 adults 18-49 rating is the highest NBC has gotten for any regular-season NFL game ever and is the best rating in the demo any game has gotten since the 11.6 earned by ABC’s December 15, 1997 game between the Broncos and San Francisco 49ers.