I wrote oodles of posts about the NFL’s ratings in January games (both of the playoff and Pro Bowl variety), but the overall viewership of the playoff games were actually slightly down from a year ago.
The game-by-game numbers for the league are surprising as revealed by Sports Media Watch. This year’s playoffs featured not only the most-viewed game in the wild card round of all-time (Steelers-Broncos, highlighted by Tebowmania), but also the most-viewed divisional game (Giants-Packers), the second most-viewed championship game (Giants-49ers), and the most viewed Super Bowl (Giants-Patriots). But it was the other games that dragged the overall numbers down, with two wild card games (Bengals-Texans and Falcons-Giants) drawing lower numbers than any wild card game last year. The Bengals-Texans game was actually the lowest viewed wild card game since the Falcons and Cardinals played in the 2008 playoffs.
Another potentially alarming number is that the Packers-Eagles wild card game from last year got more views than three of the four divisional games this year. There obviously isn’t any major cause for panic here because the NFL is still sports’ ratings behemoth, but these numbers are interesting considering the amount of games that saw record viewership. It’s also worth noting that the Texans played in both the lowest rated wild card game and the lowest rated divisional game of the year. You would have thought that a team that had never reached the playoffs before this season would bring in some more eyeballs, but apparently not. The NFL shouldn’t worry too much though, overall playoff ratings have grown by over 9 million viewers per game since 2003.
[h/t:Sports Media Watch]