We don't need to beat the drum about the NFL's incredible ratings at all. Everyone knows that the league is far and away the most popular American sport. But just how popular is it, really? The rain delay at the beginning of Sunday's 49ers-Seahawks drew more viewers than everything else on television that week, except for the game itself. Check out these numbers from the AP via Deadspin.
1. NFL Football: San Francisco at Seattle, NBC, 20.54 million.
2. "Football Rain Delay," NBC, 17.84 million.
3. NFL Football: Philadelphia at Washington, ESPN, 16.52 million.
4. "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 15.22 million.
5. "60 Minutes," CBS, 12.45 million.
6. "Football Night in America," NBC, 11.31 million.
7. NFL Football: Houston at San Diego, ESPN, 10.95 million.
8. "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday), NBC, 10.08 million.
9. "Under the Dome," CBS, 9.72 million.
10. "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 9.24 million.
11. "Duck Dynasty," A&E, 9.14 million.
12. "NCIS," CBS, 9.07 million.
13. NFL Football: N.Y. Jets at New England, NFLN, 8.79 million.
14. "Miss America Competition," ABC, 8.59 million.
15. "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 8 million.
16. "The Big Bang Theory" (Monday, 9:54 p.m.), CBS, 7.53 million.
17. "Big Brother 15" (Sunday), CBS, 6.93 million.
18. "The X-Factor," Fox, 6.87 million.
19. "Big Brother 15" (Wednesday), CBS, 6.83 million.
20. "Dateline NBC" (Friday), NBC, 6.73 million.
A rain delay – a freaking one hour rain delay in the first quarter – drew nearly 18 million viewers while up against an amazing episode of Breaking Bad (which unfortunately, isn't on this list of the top 20 programs of the past week). It outdrew Monday Night Football's regular season premiere on ESPN. It more than doubled the total viewers of the Thursday Night Football game between the Patriots and Jets (which is understandable, given that it was on NFL Network).
All this, for a rain delay. When baseball games have rain delays, they don't even air game coverage, they'll cut away for some sort of hokey news magazine show profiling the team. But yet, NBC's riveting rain delay coverage draws eight figures.
You can't stop the Shield, you can only hope to contain it.