NFL Divisional Bills Chiefs Jan 21, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) greets Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) following the 2024 AFC divisional round game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, both CBS and NBC aired NFL Divisional Playoff games, and both networks delivered eye-popping record audiences.

In the 3 p.m. ET window, NBC’s broadcast of Bucs-Lions averaged a stunning 40.4 million viewers across NBC, Peacock, and other digital platforms, the most-watched NBC Sports NFL Divisional game since a 49ers-Oilers matchup in 1994. The game’s audience peaked at 49.1 million viewers during the Bucs’ final drive of the game.

Hours later, in the 6:30 p.m. ET window, CBS averaged 50.393 million viewers for the Chiefs’ win over the Bills. Not only is that the most-watched Divisional game on CBS, it’s the most-watched Divisional game *ever* and the first to top 50 million viewers. The previous record was nearly two million viewers fewer, when 48.522 million watched a Cowboys-Packers Divisional game in January 2017.

The peak audience for Chiefs-Bills was 56.250 million.

As always, out-of-home viewing was not counted by Nielsen until the 2020 season.

The four networks airing Divisional Playoff games all experienced incredible highs this past weekend. In addition to the records smashed by CBS and NBC, ESPN’s broadcast of Texans-Ravens on Saturday was the most-watched non-Super Bowl NFL game in Disney’s history of airing the league, while Fox’s primetime Saturday broadcast of Packers-49ers was the most-watched Saturday broadcast (regardless of the event) in 30 years.

This Sunday, Fox will air its final NFL game of the season, while CBS airs its second-to-last game. CBS has the Ravens-Chiefs AFC Championship game at 3 p.m. ET, and Fox has the 49ers-Lions NFC Championship game at 6:30 p.m. ET.


About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.