NFL’s 100th Season Kickoff Game Viewership Up Double Digits Over 2018 – Update

Packers Bears
The start of the new gridiron season saw Aaron Rodgers & crew grind out a win in the Windy City last night AP

UPDATE, 12:47 PM: The NFL’s 100th season is officially underway and last night’s Green Bay Packers’ winning kickoff game against the Chicago Bears looks to have gotten things off on the right foot.

The match-up snagged an audience of 22.0 million for NBC from 8:23 – 11:30 PM on Thursday. That’s up 15.7% over the viewership that last year’s Philadelphia Eagles’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons scored in last year’s season kickoff game.

In fact, similar to the results of the metered market numbers earlier this morning, the start of the 2019/2020 NFL season is the most watched opener since the 2016 kickoff and the most watched sporting event in America since the New England Patriots’ winning Super Bowl LIII back in February.

When you factor in the NFL and NBC digital viewing, the Total Audience Delivery bops up to 22.7 million – a 16% jump over the 2018 season opener.

The Comcast-owned network is puffing out its chest a bit because of the 127 million live streaming minutes across 2.7 million unique devices that football fans watched last night. Up 17% and 38%, respectively from the 2018 NFL Kickoff Game, last night’s digital delivery on NBC Sports Digital is now the record holder for the most streamed NFL regular-season game ever.

See ya on Sunday.

PREVIOUSLY 6:26 AM: Promising to #InspireChange, the NFL hit the pedal on its 100th season Thursday night with one of its greatest rivalries as the Green Bay Packers faced the Chicago Bears in the Windy City.

Unlike the traditional Super Bowl champion’s perch in the kickoff game for a new season, the Roger Goodell-run NFL went for the old enemies to commemorate the occasion with their 199th matchup. Even with the boos from Bears fans at Soldier Field on Thursday night and a protest free National Anthem, the decision looks to have been a winning choice.

Taken down 10-3 by Aaron Rodgers and an energized defense on the Wisconsin team, the reigning NFC North division champions Bears struggled from the beginning in what was one of the most grinding season openers of recent years. However, preceded by a Meek Mill and Meghan Trainor-led concert in the Midwest metropolis, and the hype of a centennial season, the Packers’ win over the odds favorite Bears was a ratings touchdown for the league or NBC.

Scoring a 15.3/28 in metered market results, the 8:30 – 11:30 PM ET game last night is up double digits over last year’s weather delayed Philadelphia Eagles 18-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The on-time Packers and Bears game shot up 14% from that September 6, 2018 game in the early metrics.

In fact, with a 6% bounce over the 2017 kickoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots, last night’s match-up on the Comcast-owned broadcaster and the NFL Network was the best any Thursday night season opener has done since Denver played Carolina in 2016.

If the nine-year low of 19 million viewers that the Eagles and Falcons’ kickoff game ended up with last year is any guide, last night’s rivals redux battle looks certain to break the recent repeated years of straight double digit decline that have plagued the league and NBC. Depending how it all shakes out in the final numbers, the NFL and the broadcaster could exceed 25 million viewers – a more traditional realm for the season opener.

Fall Premiere Dates For New & Returning Series On Broadcast, Cable & Streaming: 2019 Edition

Moving into the weekend opener, Sunday Night Football makes its 2019/2020 season debut on September 8 with Super Bowl LIII winner the New England Patriots facing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Massachusetts.

As for today, we’ll update with more 100th season kickoff game numbers and results for the rest of primetime which included CBS’ Big Brother, up a tenth from last week, and Fox’s Spin the Wheel finale, up two tenths. (see the fast-affiliate chart below).

Here’s the Top 10 local markets for Thursday’s Packers’ win

1. Milwaukee 48.1/69
2. Chicago 35.3/56
3. Minneapolis 23.9/43
4. New Orleans 23.1/33
5. Kansas City 21.9/36
6. Denver 21.1/39
7. Buffalo 19.7/34
8. Jacksonville 19.0/31
9. Norfolk 18.1/28
10. Cincinnati 17.8/3

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