Upsets and overtimes led to the best viewership for the NFL’s Wild Card weekend in four years.
The league’s Wild Card playoff weekend averaged roughly 30 million viewers across four games, which was up 7% over last year’s opening round.
The weekend started with a bang on Saturday with the Houston Texans narrowly beating the Buffalo Bills 22 to 19 in overtime. The game, which was simulcasted on ABC, ESPN and ESPN Deportes, brought in an audience of 26.4 million viewers. That is up 14% from last year. It is also the highest viewership ever for an NFL Wild Card game on ESPN and ABC.
On Saturday night, the Tennessee Titans stunned the defending Super Bowl champions, New England Patriots, 20 to 13 on CBS. The game notched 31.4 million viewers for the network, a 23% bump over CBS’ wild card game last year.
The Minnesota Vikings’ 26 to 20 upset against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday was watched by roughly 30 million viewers across Fox and Fox Deportes. That viewership represented a 2% increase for the network compared to last year.
The Seattle Seahawks’ 17 to 9 slugfest win over the Philadelphia Eagles led the weekend, bringing in about 35 million viewers on Sunday evening. The game was down 2% from last year’s thrilling playoff game between the Eagles and the Chicago Bears on NBC. It was the most watched program on TV since last year’s Super Bowl.
The big start to the playoffs comes after the league dominated TV this season.
The NFL’s TV viewership for the 2019 season was up roughly 5% overall from the previous year. It was the most watched NFL season in three years. The league was such a ratings powerhouse that it accounted for 47 of the top 50 most-watched shows on TV this season, including the entire top 10.
If history is any indication, the NFL’s numbers could grow as the league gets deeper into the playoffs.
Next week’s Divisional Round includes some of the league’s most marquee teams like the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. There are also young and exciting teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs that will be in contention as well.