Sunday Night Football saw Deshaun Watson and the Texans beat Tom Brady and the Patriots, with a lot of people watching.

The recent trend of strong NFL ratings is continuing, and this time, the Dallas Cowboys weren’t involved. The Houston Texans’ 28-22 win over the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football this week pulled in a total audience delivery of 22.0 million viewers for NBC. As NBC’s release illustrates, that compares quite favorably to previous Week 13 SNF games:

The Houston Texans’ 28-22 victory over the New England Patriots on NBC’s Sunday Night Football posted a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) average of 22.0 million viewers – marking the most-watched Week 13 NBC SNF game in nine years. The 2010 Week 13 SNF game was a down-to-the-wire matchup for first place in the AFC North between the 8-3 Baltimore Ravens and the 8-3 Pittsburgh Steelers, who scored the game-winning points on a Ben Roethslisberger touchdown pass with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter (22.5 million viewers).

…The Patriots-Texans TAD of 22.0 million viewers across NBC TV, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital platforms, represents a 21% increase over last year’s Week 13 game (18.2 million for Chargers-Steelers), according to fast national data released by Nielsen, and digital data from Adobe Analytics.

A 21 percent jump over last year’s game at this time is certainly notable, but the Patriots and Texans definitely provided a better matchup from a market perspective. The Patriots were third and fourth respectively in Ad Age and Vidlytics viewership data last year (tracking viewership for nationally-televised games and local viewership for all games respectively), while the Texans were 24th and seventh respectively. The Steelers were 5th and 12th, while the Chargers were 17th and 16th.

And while the Texans didn’t draw many national viewers last year, they do play in one of the largest markets out there, which helps for pulling in local viewership. Houston is the seventh-largest market nationally, while Boston is ninth. Pittsburgh is 24th, and while Los Angeles is second, the Chargers have struggled to draw much in the way of a local TV audience. Add in that both the Patriots and the Texans were leading their division and that this went down to the wire, and you have a recipe for pretty good ratings.

What’s really impressive is how this was the most-watched Week 13 game since 2010. The general trend for NFL audiences was a rise through 2015, a plunge in 2016, and further struggles in 2017 before somewhat of a rebound in 2018 and a further rebound this year. But overall, the audiences still aren’t where they were in 2015. We’re seeing more and more individual games that not only reach 2015 levels but compare well to games earlier than that, though, and this is another data point along those lines.

And this adds to what’s been a good season for Sunday Night Football; they’ve racked up at least 22 million viewers (by total audience delivery, which counts streaming) for seven of their 15 broadcasts so far, way up over the two that hit that mark through Week 13 last year,  and their overall average of 20.7 million viewers to date is up four percent from last year’s 19.8 million. We’ll see if they can keep that momentum up to post gains for the full year, but at this point, that certainly looks likely.

[NBC Sports Group Pressbox]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.