UPDATE, 1:25 PM: The score was a tight 21-20 win for the Denver Broncos last night over the Carolina Panthers in the NFL kickoff but now the final numbers are truly in. The 8:41-11:53 PM ET game in the hometown of the Super Bowl 50 champs drew 25.2 million viewers on NBC.
While the fourth year in a row that the Thursday season kickoff game has topped 25 million viewers, last night’s match-up was down 8% from the near record viewership of last year’s New England Patriots’ 28-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 10, 2015. The Broncos’ come from 10-points behind win, which may have lost a number of viewers due to what looked like a blowout in the making, is also down 6% from the 2014 kickoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers – which the Emerald City team won 36-16.
The Broncos vs. Panthers game peaked from 9:30 – 9:45 PM with 27.7 million viewers, according to NBC.
Now on to Phoenix and the Sunday start of Sunday Night Football.
PREVIOUSLY, 7:06 AM: In the end, last night’s kickoff game of the NFL’s 2016-2017 season was a lot like Super Bowl 50: the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers. However, unlike the big game in February, Thursday’s start to the regular season was on NBC not CBS, the now-retired Peyton Manning wasn’t playing (though the ex-Broncos QB was there at the newly renamed Sports Authority Field), linebacker Brandon Marshall kneeled during the national anthem in protest, the Panthers’ Cam Newton established a new QB rushing touchdowns record, and the game was a potential blowout that became a nail-biter.
NBC and the NFL must be thankful for that last point, as the Broncos’ eventual 21-20 victory was on the edge right up to the end of the primetime match-up – which is always a ratings booster. However, the net and the league may have lost viewers before Denver overcame a 10-point deficit to rally and pull off a home victory with their new QB and a pack stadium full of orange clad fans. All of which eventually provided the drama that live sports promises and delivered the Comcast-owned net a 16.5/29 metered market rating.
That’s down 7% from the September 10, 2015 kickoff game between the Deflategated New England Patriots’ 28-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. With a 17.7/30 MM result, that 8:41-11: 29 PM ET battle tied the 2010 New Orleans Saints-Minnesota Vikings game for the best NFL kickoff MM result since the Thursday game started in 2002.
Going almost to midnight on the East Coast, last night’s game was also down a touch from the Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers match-up that kicked off the season on September 4, 2014. That game got 16.8/28 MM rating, up a tick from the 16.2/29 MM results of the 2013 kick0ff between the Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens.
The Patriots vs. Steelers kickoff last year ended up with a 10.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 27.4 million viewers. That first number was pretty steady with the 2014 kickoff game demo results while the second one was just 0.36% short of being the most watched Thursday season opener ever. That 2010 Saints vs. Vikings game still hold the most watched record with 27.5 million tuning in.
We’ll update with more NFL kickoff numbers and other ratings, yes Big Brother was on too last night, as we get them later today. In the meantime, here are the Top 10 local markets for last night’s game
1. Denver 46.9/74
2. Charlotte 33.2/52
3. Greensboro 27.1/42
4. New Orleans 24.1/35
5. Raleigh 22.7/37
6. Albuquerque 21.5/36
7. Greenville 21.2/34
8. Indianapolis 21.0/36
9. Norfolk 20.7/34
10. Richmond 20.3/33
And there’s still Sunday Night Football’s formal kickoff to come:
— #NFLKickoff (@SNFonNBC) September 9, 2016
UPDATE, 8:54 AM: Maybe it was the fact that at halftime the NFL kickoff game looked to be a lock for the Carolina Panthers with a 10-point lead over Super Bowl champs the Denver Broncos. Even with an impressive Broncos comeback to win the game 21-20, last night’s match-up fell short of the 2015 opener.
With an 8.5/29 rating among adults 18-49 and 23.33 million viewers, the non-time zone adjusted fast affiliates were down 11% in the key demo from the early numbers of the New England Patriots 28-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 10 last year. Viewershipwise, last night’s game dipped 2% from last year’s kickoff in the 8:30 – 11 PM slot – though the battle between the two Super Bowl 50 teams actually went to almost 12 AM> As we said earlier today, the 2015 Patriots vs. Steelers kickoff game eventually pulled in a near record 10.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 27.4 million viewers. We’ll see what the Broncos vs. Panthers game ends up with later.
The 8 PM NFL Kickoff Special (5.4/21) was even with last year’s fast affiliate numbers as NBC easily dominated the night with an 8.0/28 rating and 22.03 million viewers.
The only other original of last night was 9 PM’s Big Brother (1.7/6), which was up a tenth from last week.