UPDATED, 11:50 AM: The NFL lost plenty of ratings momentum during the 2016 regular season, but last night’s AFC Divisional playoff on NBC has to make network and league brass happy. NBC said today that Pittsburgh’s tight win over Kansas City in the AFC Divisional playoff averaged 37.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched primetime game ever in the NFL’s Divisional and Wild Card Playoff rounds. Viewership for Steelers-Chiefs peaked at 39.1 million from 9-9:30 PM ET.NBC also said the 37.1 million viewers for Steelers-Chiefs is the best for a Sunday primetime program on any network since Super Bowl 50 in February.
PREVIOUSLY, 9:37 AM: On a night of heavy competition on cable with the debut of The Young Pope on HBO and the Season 6 opener of Showtime’s Homeland, plus the Sherlock Season 4 finale on PBS, Sunday easily belonged to the NFL on both NBC and Fox.
The big winners were the Pittsburgh Steelers and NBC as the Pennsylvania team held on beat the Kansas City Chiefs 18-16 to win the Divisional playoff and head to the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots next week. With the matchup in Missouri being moved to primetime on Sunday due to weather worries — a first — the Comcast-owned net ended up scoring a 21.9/34 in metered market results. Or, to put it in the starkest terms – the best any primetime NFL Wild Card or Divisional playoff game has done in those early numbers ever.
Previous highs in the early rounds of the playoffs were the 20.6/34 that the Denver Broncos vs. the Patriots got in the AFC Divisional on January 4, 2012. and the 20.8/33 that the NY Jets and Indianapolis Colts pulled in for their AFC Wild Card game on January 8, 2011.
In unadjusted fast affiliates, which surely will change, Sunday’s Divisional playoff game snared a 10.4/30 rating among adults 18-49 and a huge viewership of 32.04 million between 8:30-11 PM ET. The Green Bay Packers’ 34-31 NFC Divisional win over the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys on Fox yesterday slipped one-hour into primetime in an overrun to deliver the net a 14.8/43 rating in the key demo and a total audience of 46.56 million. In metered market result, that Packers win hit a huge 28.2 rating.
With the on-field result tight up to the closing minutes, last night’s game on NBC peaked in MM results from 11-11:15 PM ET with a huge 23.8/40 rating. The game was up 8% in MM numbers over the Arizona Cardinals 26-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the primetime NFC Divisional game on January 16, 2016 — a Saturday.
In fast affiliates, NBC won the night with 8.2/24 rating and 25.46 million viewers to Fox’s 6.4/21 and viewership of 21.64 million – both of which likely will adjust later –and of course saw ratings for The Simpsons (5.1/14), The Mick (2.0/6) and Family Guy (1.6/5) inflated.
As for the rest of the nets – well, the sudden move of the Steelers vs. Chiefs game certainly took a toll with NCIS: Los Angeles (1.0/3) hitting a season low on CBS. The procedural was down three-tenths from last weekm while Madam Secretary (0.8/3) and Elementary (0.6/2) were down a tenth each from their January 8 shows, when they faced the Golden Globes.
ABC’s night started off with America’s Funniest Home Videos (0.7/2) down a tenth from last week and a double shot of To Tell the Truth at 8 PM (0.8/3) and 9 PM (0.9/3) declining two-tenths and a tenth from its January 8 shows. At 10 PM, Conviction (0.5/2) was even with last week.
Have a good and giving MLK Day.
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