One of the best weekends in NFL history concluded with its best ratings in five years. The Kansas City Chiefs’ thrilling overtime win over the Buffalo Bills drew 42.736 million viewers to CBS and Paramount+ on Sunday afternoon. That was 18% better than last year’s comparable game.
The previous divisional playoff game to attract a larger audience was 2017’s Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys NFC Divisional Playoff game, which landed 48.522 million total viewers. The game in the comparable window last year, another NFC Divisional Playoff game (the AFC and NFC game rotate into and out of the later window every other year), saw 36.300 million viewers tune in to watch the eventual Super Bowl winners, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, defeat the New Orleans Saints.
This year’s Divisional Playoff games took place one week later in January, due to the addition of a 17th NFL regular season game.
The Bills-Chiefs game featured multiple lead changes in the last minute, including the Chiefs’ tying the score at the end of regulation after getting the ball with only 13 seconds left on the clock. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes would drive them down to the end zone for the walk-off win.
CBS’ Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans game on Saturday afternoon drew 30.752 million total viewers, up 13% from last year’s comparable game. It was the strongest performance in that window in six years.
Bills-Chiefs ended a weekend that many argue will go down as one of the league’s best. The four-game Divisional Round of the playoffs featured the winning points scored as time expired. Three of the four home teams, including both the top-seeded Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans, as well as Tom Brady and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were knocked out.
Next Sunday will be both the AFC and NFC Championship games to determine who will meet in Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13. CBS gets the early game between the Chiefs and the surging Cincinnati Bengals, while the NFC championship will feature a Northern California vs. Southern California matchup when the San Francisco 49ers come to SoFi Stadium to play the Los Angeles Rams. The winner of the game, which is on Fox, will get to play at that same stadium two weeks later.
With Brady and the Bucs out of the picture, we will crown a new NFL champion that evening.