UPDATED, 12:55 PM: The numbers for the Los Angeles Rams’ overtime win on Fox against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday are good, but they are not as good as the results of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.
The late Sunday AFC battle in the BBQ Capitol of the World pulled in a massive audience of 53.9 million viewers for CBS. The earlier Rams’ win snared 44.08 million sets of eyeballs for the Rupert Murdoch-owned network.
The former game is up 27% against the comparable NFL playoff window of last year, while the latter rose 13% from the 2018 NFC Championship Game face-off between the current Super Bowl champs the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings.
Not only does the Patriots’ 37-31 victory see Tom Brady and the boys going back to the Super Bowl for a third consecutive year, but it is also the second most watched AFC Championship Game in the past 42 years, according to Nielsen. With those stats going back to when Jimmy Carter was in the White House, the most watched AFC title game still remains the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 24-19 win over the New York Jets in 2011. That big battle was seen by a small-screen audience of 54.8 million.
Not that the move to overtime for the Patriots and the Chiefs didn’t draw big big numbers. Yesterday’s AFC Championship Game peaked with 63.8 million viewers in the 9:30-10 PM ET slot.
Take that to the Super Bowl.
PREVIOUSLY, 8:34 AM: Sunday was a tense but ultimately good day for the Super Bowl-bound Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots, and a very good day for the NFL, Fox and CBS.
Both the NFC and AFC championship games played yesterday went into overtime, and both gridiron battles saw double-digit ratings gains over last year.
The local boys’ Rams’ 26-23 victory over the New Orleans Saints in the early game scored a 27.1/49 in metered market results for the Rupert Murdoch-owned network. Marking their third consecutive Super Bowl berth, the five-ring-holding Tom Brady and the Patriots had to go long to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 37-31 on the road, but their ratings result was a very strong 31.2/48 in the early metrics.
At the tail end of a season that saw the NFL slip away from controversy, player protests over social injustice, and decidedly declining ratings, the Rams’ victory was up 10% over last year’s big NFC game, when current Super Bowl champs the Philadelphia Eagles demolished the Minnesota Vikings.
The news gets better for the Murdochs and the league in the long run too.
If those early numbers are indicative, yesterday’s Rams’ win could turn out to be Fox’s most watched telecast in sports, drama, awards shows, reality shows and everything else since Super Bowl LI. It should be noted that that February 5, 2017 game saw the Patriots maul the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 after springing into action with a 25-point comeback, the largest in NFL history.
As for history, last night’s AFC Championship Game is currently the highest-rated telecast on TV since last year’s Super Bowl LII, where the Patriots lost to the Eagles 41-33 and snagged a 47.4/74 in meter market numbers.
For CBS, the AFC ratings look good on a variety of levels. First of all, last night’s Patriots OT win is up 14% over last year’s AFC Championship in the early metrics. Secondly, this year’s AFC title game rose 26% over the Eagles-Minnesota Vikings NFC Championship Game of 2018, which was played in the later time slot.
Thirdly and perhaps lastly for us, last night’s AFC Championship Game is the highest-rated late-window conference championship game since the New York Giants played the San Francisco 49ers on January 22, 2012. That game achieved a 33.4/48 metered market result.
All of which means get ready for a hell of a Super Bowl LIII on February 3 at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
In other Sunday ratings news:
CBS’s post-game Magnum P.I. (3.8, 12.06M) clocked in four times better than current season average, easily copping series high.
And CW’s back-from-hiatus Supergirl (0.3, 1.04M) plunged relative to its fall finale’s 0.8 demo rating, compliments of CW’s well-orchestrated Superhero crossover campaign. After which, Charmed returned (0.3, 820K) on par with its fall finale.
CBS (13.1, 43.04M) owned primetime Sunday, Fox (0.8, 2.45M), ABC (0.6, 3.36M), NBC (0.5, 2.75M), and CW (0.3, 930K) followed, laps behind.