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The NFL capped a remarkable playoff season Sunday with two more down-to-the-wire games in its conference championship round. The league’s TV numbers were equally impressive.
The AFC championship on CBS and the NFC title game on Fox averaged 49 million viewers Sunday, up 13 percent over the two games last year (43.31 million). All three playoff rounds were up by double-digit percentages year to year, which followed regular season gains of 7 percent over last year. The big numbers once again shine a spotlight on how much farther ahead the NFL is of anything else on TV.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship averaged 47.85 million viewers for CBS in the afternoon window, peaking at almost 61 million. That’s a three-year high for the AFC title game (the 2019 contest, which aired in primetime, brought in 53.9 million viewers) and the most watched conference title game (AFC or NFC) in the afternoon window since 2016. CBS had a game top 40 million viewers in each round of the playoffs.
On Fox, the L.A. Rams’ 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers delivered 50.23 million viewers (with Fox Deportes’ Spanish-language telecast bringing the total to 50.42 million). That marks an eight-year high for the network’s NFC championship broadcast.
(One caveat: All figures prior to last year don’t include out of home viewing, which itself increased over last year as pandemic restrictions have lessened.)
Sunday’s two games are the most watched programs of the 2021-22 TV season so far (and will likely only be surpassed by the Feb. 13 Super Bowl). The league also had 33 telecasts top 20 million viewers this season. Only one entertainment program, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC, has managed that feat.
No primetime entertainment series telecast has topped 10 million same-day viewers this season. Even with a week of delayed viewing, only four entertainment shows (CBS’ NCIS and FBI, NBC’s Chicago Fire and Paramount Network’s Yellowstone) break the 10 million mark. By comparison, of the 130 NFL telecasts to have aired this season, only eight came in under 10 million viewers — seven of them were exclusive to NFL Network, and the eighth was an early morning broadcast on CBS of one of the league’s two London-based games.
Converting Sunday’s two games to the preferred streaming metric of total viewing time gives a tally of almost 19 billion minutes — roughly seven times that of the biggest week for any streaming series recently: The Witcher’s 2.73 billion minutes on Netflix during Christmas.
Bookmark THR.com/Ratings for more ratings news and numbers.
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