The NFL’s Divisional weekend was full of really, really good games.
There were plenty of other storylines, of course, plus it’s the NFL, so the ratings numbers were always likely to be very good. And, unsurprisingly with the first national numbers in, they were, especially for the Bills-Chiefs heartstopper on CBS Sunday evening.
Here are the first viewership totals, as tweeted out in easily readable format via the invaluable Sports TV Ratings, along with equivalent numbers the last two years:
— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) January 25, 2022
(The prior two years both have asterisks due to out-of-home undercounting, plus the calendar doesn’t exactly line up thanks to the NFL adding a week to the regular season this year.)
Sports Media Watch has the demo breakdowns as well, with the NFL performing very strongly in the key demographics as you’d expect. It’s dangerous to draw any conclusions from just this data point, of course, and television ratings require a lot of context. It would be fair, though, to point out that the NFL can draw absolutely massive viewership totals for games between teams in non-major markets, like Kansas City and Buffalo. Obviously local ratings for those areas were huge, but a national audience isn’t tuning in for a connection to a region, they’re tuning in for the league’s product.
Patrick Mahomes vs. Josh Allen in a thriller (and in the best window of the weekend) was always a recipe for big viewership, and that’s exactly what the league and network got. So, yes, the NFL remains the biggest draw, and any bad-faith narrative that it was diminishing in popularity due to political activism can once again be refuted by new information. (Surely that will stop the bad-faith voices!)
[Sports TV Ratings]