UPDATE, 12:55 PM: The Seattle Seahawks may have had a clear 36-16 win over the Green Bay Packers last night in the NFL Kickoff game, but for NBC the ratings results ended up being good, though slightly mixed. With the final numbers now in, the network’s first game of the 2014 season drew a 10.2/32 rating among adults 18-49 for its 8:42 PM – 11:30 PM duration. That’s down a sliver from the 10.3/31 that last year’s 9:15 PM-12:30 AM ET kickoff match-up between the Denver Broncos and 2013 Super Bowl champs the Baltimore Ravens got. The tiny decline from last year among the key demo makes last night’s game the fourth best kickoff since the opening match-up was launched in 2002. The Broncos vs. Ravens’ battle remains in the third place spot by a hair. Having said that, viewershipwise, the Seahawks vs. Packers game was up 7% from last year’s Thursday kickoff with an audience of 26.9 million. Not only is that the third best kickoff game in terms of total viewers, but it is also the most watched single broadcast on TV since the March 2 Oscars telecast, which was seen by a stellar 43.7 million. That said, don’t be surprised if the Sunday Night Football game between Denver and the Indianapolis Colts swings at last night’s number. In terms of network NFL on Thursdays, there won’t be more on NBC this season but CBS starts its 8-game run on September 11 – and they must like the sound of last night’s numbers.
PREVIOUS, 6:36 AM: Few football fans are as loud as those of reigning Super Bowl champs the Seattle Seahawks, few are as dedicated as those of the Green Bay Packers — and none of them forget the Fail Mary call the last time the former hosted the latter in 2012. Those are just three reasons why even if last night’s game wasn’t the NFL regular-season opener, it would be a must-see matchup anyway. And you can be damn sure a lot more people than just the 67,000-plus packed into the Emerald City’s CenturyLink Field were watching Seattle indisputably rout the Packers 36-16. In time-zone adjusted meter-market results, the 8:30 PM-11:38 PM ET game scored a 16.8/28 rating, up 4% from the 16.2/29 of last year’s season kickoff in which the Denver Broncos demolished 2013 Super Bowl winners the Baltimore Ravens. That September 5, 2013 game ran from 9:15 PM-12:30 AM ET. (The late start was due to weather conditions in Denver that saw the game begin 35 minutes after it was scheduled, forcing NBC to eat up some on-air time.)
Last night’s game was the third-best metered market result the kickoff game has seem since the Thursday game was first introduced in 2002 with the San Francisco 49ers beating the New York Giants. The top 5 local markets were Milwaukee (44.0/64), Seattle (42.2/73), Minneapolis (26.6/44), New Orleans (25.2/38) and Sacramento (21.2/35). Over last night’s primetime, NBC scored big with a 15.5/26 metered market result. CBS was a far second with a 3.8/6, Fox had a 1.6/3 and ABC was fourth with a 1.4/2.
We’ll update with more ratings for NFL and non-NFL programming last night as numbers become available (see below).In the meantime, here’s some football context for the demo and viewership numbers to come. Last year’s kickoff game ended with 10.3/31 rating in adults 18-49 and 25.133 million viewers, just behind 2011′s 10.9 rating and 2010′s 10.7 and the opener’s third-best demo result since it was first played 12 years ago. Viewership-wise the 2013 season opener was also third-best overall behind the 27.5 million who watched the 2010 New Orleans Saints-Minnesota Vikings matchup and the 27.1 million who tuned in for 2011’s Green Bay-New Orleans clash.
The 2014 season kicks into high gear Sunday with 13 games — six games on Fox and six on CBS in local markets and of course in national primetime Sunday Night Football on NBC with the Indianapolis Colts vs. the Broncos.
(UPDATE, 8:54 AM: With the debut of the NFL 2014 season on Thursday, primetime easily belonged to NBC the way the kickoff game belonged to the Seattle Seahawks – a total victory. However, right now non-adjusted fast nationals have last night’s Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers match up drawing a 9.0/27 among adults 18-49. While the game was up 4% in metered market results from last year’s kickoff, it is actually down 12% from the 10.3/27 that the Denver Broncos’ victory over then Super Bowl champs the Baltimore Ravens. In terms of viewers, last night’s game was watched by an audience of 23. 40 million. That’s down from the 25.133 million who watched last year’s kickoff on September 5, 2013. NBC’s 8 PM NFL Kickoff 2014 (5.7/21) was up a slight 2% from last year. Of course, by the very nature of live events like football games those results will not stay in the final numbers. In this case, because of the live event but also the time slots, expect even greater adjustments than usual later in the day. However, it is pretty clear NBC topped the night both among the key demo (8.4/26) and in viewership (22.505 million).
Believe it or not there was actually other things on TV besides the NFL last night. CBS had Big Brother (2.2/6) on at 9 PM. Even against the hard competition of football, the vet reality show was up 10% from its August 28 show. Over on ABC, a 2-hour broadcast of The Quest (0.3/1) was unchanged from last week. Fox and The CW were all repeats last night. )