Despite a relatively tight round of four games, the NFL’s Divisional round of playoffs failed to bring increases to the league’s TV partners.
All four games were down from their counterparts a year ago, though if there’s a consolation, it’s that the largest decline was just 11%.
Rams-Packers on Fox was the first game of the weekend, and it drew 26.499 million viewers. That’s down 10% from last year’s Saturday afternoon game (Vikings-49ers), which drew 29.29 million viewers on NBC.
In primetime on Saturday, Ravens-Bills drew 26.237 million viewers on NBC. That’s down 11% from last year’s Saturday primetime game (Titans-Ravens), which drew 29.41 million viewers on CBS.
On Sunday afternoon in the early window, Browns-Chiefs drew 34.325 million viewers on CBS. While that’s the network’s largest audience of the season, it’s still down 3% from last year’s early Sunday game (Texans-Chiefs), which drew 35.40 million viewers on CBS.
Finally, in the late Sunday afternoon window, Bucs-Saints drew 35.463 million viewers on Fox. And again, while it’s the largest audience of the season for Fox, it’s down 5% from last year’s late Sunday game (Seahawks-Packers), which drew 37.24 million viewers on Fox.
All things considered, this isn’t a horrible outcome for the NFL. Viewership for the two Sunday games was quite strong, and low to mid single digit drops are nothing to get worried about. The Saturday declines were larger, but each were still smaller than three of the four declines in the Wild Card round.
Also, think about this: during the regular season, the NFL’s viewership declined by 7%. The decline in the average viewership for the four Divisional games this year was…7%.