UPDATE, 12:30 PM: Fox‘s coverage of the NFC Wild Card game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers drew 47.1 million viewers and a 25.8/41 household rating Sunday. That makes the matchup in frigid-cold Green Bay — won by the Niners on a last-season field goal — the highest-rated NFL Wild Card playoff game on any network since at least 1988. The game was up 20% in ratings and 24% in viewers compared with last year’s late Sunday matchup between Seattle and Washington (21.5/36, 38.1 million viewers), and is the highest-rated and most-watched telecast of any kind since last year’s Super Bowl.
PREVIOUS, 11:31 AM: The NFL’s season is raking in big ratings in the home stretch, with both NBC and CBS posting gains with wild card game coverage this weekend. NBC logged the most-watched Wild Card Saturday ever, averaging 30.8 million viewers – up 14% from last year’s 26.9 million average. Saturday’s slate featured two playoff games decided by two points or less on the same day for the first time in NFL postseason history, with the Indianapolis Colts overcoming a 28-point deficit to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44 and the New Orleans Saints kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24. The NFL instituted Wild Card Saturday for the 1990 season when it expanded the playoffs from five to six teams per conference.
On CBS, Sunday’s AFC Wild Card Playoff game featuring the San Diego Chargers’ win over the Cincinnati Bengals was seen by an average of 30.9 million viewers, the highest viewership in 19 years for an early Sunday AFC Wild Card game (31.6 M; New England-Cleveland; 1/1/95; NBC), and is up 4% from last year’s 29.6 million (Indianapolis-Baltimore). Sunday’s other Wild Card matchup, Fox’s Packers-49ers matchup in frigid Green Bay, will likely draw even bigger numbers when the finals come out later today.
The Saints’ first road playoff victory in franchise history was the most-watched Wild Card Saturday game in NFL history, averaging 34.4 million viewers up 14% from last year’s primetime wild card matchup (30.3 million for Green Bay’s 24-10 win over Minnesota). Saints-Eagles (8:15-11:23 PM ET) earned a 19.1 rating – up 1% last season (17.3).
The Colts’ come-from-behind victory, highlighted by Andrew Luck’s 443 passing yards and four touchdown throws, averaged 27.6 million viewers – up 17% from last year (23.6 million viewers for Houston’s 19-13 win over Cincinnati). Chiefs-Colts ranks as the second most-watched early Saturday Wild Card game ever behind NBC’s telecast of Seattle’s 41-36 win over New Orleans on January 8, 2011 (28.3 million viewers). The AFC Wild Card telecast (4:35-8:07 p.m. ET) earned a 16.0 rating – up 11% from last season (14.4). NBC Sports Live Extra’s streaming of the two Wild Card games also delivered record consumption — Wild Card Saturday posted the best day in NBCSports.com history excluding Super Bowl with a record 33.9 million minutes of viewing – an increase of 122% increase from last season. In addition, Wild Card Saturday on NBC Sports Live Extra averaged a record 53.2 minutes per visit, up 27% from 2013.
The Chargers-Bengals AFC Wild Card Playoff game (1:06-4:20 PM, ET) scored an average fast-national household rating of 18.9, up 4% from last year’s 18.1, which is the highest-rated early Sunday AFC Wild Card game in 19 years (22.0/48; New England-Cleveland; 1/1/95; 12:30-3:37 PM, ET).