TV Ratings: NFL Wildcard Games Tower Above Competing Programs

by Charles Craighill
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Despite a season where ratings dipped fairly significantly, the NFL Wildcard Weekend topped the charts in viewership. In fact, the NFL games over the weekend completely outshined regularly programmed shows. On NBC, the NFL Wildcard Weekend combined with news coverage of the US Capitol swallowed all viewership over the weekend.

By the numbers, the Sunday NFL game between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Cleveland Browns took the top spot in all categories. With adults 18-49, the game had a 7.37 rating and roughly 25 million total viewers.

The Saturday matchup between the Washington Football Team and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished second in both categories with a 6.0 rating and 21 million viewers.

Aside from the NFL games, coverage of the US Capitol raid took up six top spots in the top twenty. Cuomo’s Prime Time had the highest rating for coverage, however, Anderson Cooper’s coverage drew the most total viewers.

NFL Turns Around Rating Issues

At the beginning of the season, the NFL experienced some of the lowest ratings in quite some time.

For example, in week four of the regular season, the Thursday night game between the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets only saw 5 million viewers. Given, it was two of the worst teams in the NFL, but the fact remains.

The Sunday Night Football game that week also dropped significantly. The matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Fransisco 49ers dropped 37% from the last year. This matchup featured two way more highly rated teams, however, the ratings still dropped significantly.

With that said, the NFL turned around its difficulties with ratings for the first week of the playoffs. In contrast to the depleted ratings of the first few weeks, fans have returned to watching the games. It will be interesting to see if ratings continue to grow into the next weekend of the NFL playoffs.

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