NFL enjoys increased viewership for Wild Card round
American football’s NFL attracted an audience of more than 102 million for the opening Wild Card round of this season’s playoffs.
The six games, played over Saturday (January 15), Sunday, and Monday, averaged 30.5 million viewers across TV and digital, which was up from 24.3 million last year. It is also an increase of 21% from 2020 and is the second-highest Wild Card weekend average since 2015-16.
The most-watched game was the San Francisco 49ers’ 23-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday which drew an average of 41.5 million viewers across both national network CBS Sports and its separate telecast on the Nickelodeon channel.
It was the most-watched NFL Wild Card game in seven years and the viewership was up 35% from the broadcasts on the ViacomCBS channels in 2021.
The audience for the game peaked at 50.2 million for its conclusion.
The 49ers’ victory gave CBS Sports its most-watched Wild Card game in 10 years and second most-watched on record.
In addition, ViacomCBS claimed it registered its most-streamed non-Super Bowl NFL weekend ever on its Paramount Plus streaming service, while the 49ers-Cowboys clash was its most-streamed non-Super Bowl game.
Elsewhere, ESPN drew 23.15 million viewers for its ‘megacast’ coverage of the Wild Card round on Monday (January 17).
The Los Angeles Rams’ 34-11 win over the Arizona Cardinals was shown across the main ESPN channel, as well as ABC, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes.
The audience peaked at 27.9 million viewers as the Rams led 21-0 in the second quarter.
ESPN said it was the most-watched Monday night NFL game during its Monday Night Football era that started in 2006.
The league announced last September that it would include a Monday game during the 2022 post-season’s opening round for the first time ever.
It was the sixth contest of the Super Wild Card Weekend, which was first brought in last year after the league expanded to a 14-team playoff system.
The NFL additionally announced that there were over 34 billion total minutes of coverage consumed across all platforms of the Wild Card weekend, a rise of 17% from 2020 and the highest total on record (dating back to 1988).
Digitally, the six-game slate produced an average minute audience of 1.4 million across NFL, Yahoo Sports, and broadcaster platforms - ranking as the highest digital AMA on record for the Wild Card round.
The NFL playoffs continue this weekend with the divisional round comprising two games on CBS, one on NBC, and one on Fox as part of a four-game slate.
CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN hold NFL rights in nine-year deals worth $9 billion that run until the end of the 2022-23 season.
The three networks, including Amazon, have already agreed 10-year renewals with the league until 2033.