The NFL kicked off its 100th season with the oldest rivalry in the league. The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers have been playing against each other since 1921, and the NFL figured that a matchup between the two was the best way to start the 2019 season.
The game didn’t live up to the hype, as penalties, replays, and a lack of offense dominated were the main talking points during the contest. But the game was close throughout because of the lack of offense, and the Packers eventually prevailed 10-3.
Despite what many thought about the game, people really wanted to watch. NBC drew a 15.3 overnight for the opener, up 14% from last year’s weather-delayed Falcons-Eagles game and 5% from 2017’s Chiefs-Patriots matchup.
— NBC Sports PR (@NBCSportsPR) September 6, 2019
The final viewership checked in at 22.7 million viewers, up 16% from last year.
Last year’s opener had a 45 minute weather delay, which helps explain the low viewership for that one, but topping Chiefs-Patriots from two years ago is a huge accomplishment.
This game also (unsurprisingly) drew a higher overnight than every other non-NFL sporting event in 2019, including Clemson’s blowout win over Alabama in January’s National Championship Game.
Packers-Bears earned a higher overnight rating than every non-NFL sporting event this year, including January's Clemson-Alabama College Football National Championship (15.3 to 14.6).
— Sports Media Watch (@paulsen_smw) September 6, 2019
No matter how you slice it, this is a strong start for the league. And with the Cowboys playing in Sunday’s late afternoon featured game, and the marquee Steelers-Patriots matchup taking place on Sunday night, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Week 1’s viewership continuing to impress once more overnights start trickling in on Monday.