CBS and Fox both released viewership totals for their AFC and NFC Championship broadcasts, respectively.
The numbers, continuing a trend this year, were both staggering, hitting heights not seen in the past few years.
CBS Sports caps off its most-watched NFL season in 6 years by delivering its largest audience of the season for AFC Championship Game with 47.851 million viewers.
Bengals-Chiefs peaked with more than 60 million viewers (60.990).
— CBS Sports PR (@CBSSportsGang) February 1, 2022
Nearly 49 million viewers tuned in, including a peak of nearly 61 million viewers, presumably at the end of the game in the evening as it went into overtime. That’s another aspect of this year that can’t be overlooked; strong ratings and viewership is truly aided by good games, and after a very boring Wild Card weekend, the Divisional Round and Championship Sunday were all filled with incredibly exciting games.
The NFC Championship was no exception, and Fox also reaped the benefits:
Sunday's telecast scored 50,420,000 viewers across FOX, FOX Deportes, FOX Sports streaming platforms, NFL Digital and Yahoo! Sports properties.@49ers–@RamsNFL marked the network's best #NFCChampionshipGame since 2014. ? pic.twitter.com/TVUYmUSwPC
— FOX Sports PR (@FOXSportsPR) February 1, 2022
Again, huge totals, for a game that geographically featured two California teams. That’s the power of the NFL; it’s maybe the ultimate sport for neutral fans anymore, especially when the games are close. (That the biggest games are on in primetime during the winter doesn’t hurt, either.)
The local market numbers were also predictably massive:
Championship Sunday home market ratings:
Kansas City – 54.2
Cincinnati – 46.4
San Francisco – 35.6
Los Angeles – 28.7
— Michael Mulvihill (@mulvihill79) January 31, 2022
So, again, let’s take note of what we can learn from all of this: the NFL is really popular, and more people will watch good games.
That’s honestly about it from a learning perspective. Yes, the numbers were big compared to prior years, but the out-of-home metrics are all different now and the pandemic completely changed behavior as well. Even the calendar is different thanks to the league adding a regular season week.
It’s always dangerous to try and extrapolate too much from these numbers, and networks aren’t exactly shy about spinning them in impossibly specific ways to make them sound as impressive as possible. So, for reference, here’s a prediction for the Super Bowl viewership on NBC: it will be the most-watched broadcast on television this year.