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NFL Scores Another Ratings Touchdown – Wild Card Weekend Posts Best Viewership in 4 Years

More than 30 million tuned in to see a uncharacteristically early exits for Brady and Brees

Tom Brady and Drew Brees are probably still smarting from their surprising first-round exits in the NFL Playoffs, but the league’s TV partners are in victory formation.

The opening round of the playoffs scored more than 30 million (30.5 to be exact) viewers over the four games, the highest average since the January 2016 playoffs. That was up 7% from last year’s opening round. The 2020 edition of Wild Card weekend was buoyed by four, one-score finishes, including a pair of overtime games.

The weekend also featured what some believe is the last game for Tom Brady in a New England Patriots uniform. The Patriots’ surprising loss to the 6th-seeded Tennessee Titans drew 31.4 million viewers on Saturday night for CBS, up 7% from that same comparable window last year (which aired on Fox and featured the TV ratings-juggernaut Dallas Cowboys). Earlier on Saturday, the Houston Texans’ overtime win over the Buffalo Bills drew 26.4 million viewers on ESPN and ABC, a 14% increase over last year’s opening game on the same networks.

Brady wasn’t the only future Hall of Fame signal caller to suffer a surprising first-round exit, as Brees and the New Orleans Saints lost at home to the Minnesota Vikings in the overtime in the early Sunday game on Fox. Including streaming and simulcasts on Fox Deportes, that game drew 30.8 million viewers and Fox said it was its most-streamed NFL playoff game ever.

NBC’s late-afternoon contest between the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles had the distinction of being the most-watched game of the weekend, while also being the only broadcast window that saw a decline from the previous year. The Seahawks’ 17-9 victory drew 35.1 million viewers, down a hair (2%) from the 35.9 million that saw the Eagles win their wild card weekend matchup over the Chicago Bears.

The strong ratings for the opening round come off another good year for the NFL’s TV ratings, which saw multi-year highs across the board.