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Steelers-Broncos was most-watched TV show since the Super Bowl


We already noted that the early TV ratings for Sunday night’s Steelers-Broncos game were incredibly strong, but now that the NFL has released the full viewership numbers for all of wild card weekend, we’ll take another look.

For starters, that Steelers-Broncos game was a monster on television: It drew 42.4 million viewers, which makes it the most-watched program on all of American television since Super Bowl XLV. More people watched Steelers-Broncos than the Academy Awards, or the American Idol final, or Charlie Sheen’s funeral on Two and a Half Men, or anything else since the end of last football season.

Further evidence of what a TV juggernaut the NFL is comes from the viewership totals of the other wild card games: Lions-Saints got 31.8 million viewers, Falcons-Giants got 27.7 million viewers and Bengals-Texans got 21.9 million viewers. The week’s four NFL games were the only four shows on American television to draw more than 20 million viewers.

One noteworthy aspect of the NFL’s ratings is that the size of the market has little to do with the size of the TV audience. Every October we hear gnashing of teeth from the networks and Major League Baseball if small-market teams are in the playoffs because small-market teams don’t draw. In the NFL, it’s all about interest in the team, not the size of the market. Tim Tebow has made the Broncos a national story, and the Steelers have a rabid fanbase, and the market size of Denver and Pittsburgh didn’t matter. The Saints and Lions offered fans a scoring explosion, and the market size of New Orleans and Detroit didn’t matter.

So, yes, the NFL dominates the American television landscape. In case you didn’t know that already.

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17 Responses to “Steelers-Broncos was most-watched TV show since the Super Bowl”
  1. daysend564 says: Jan 11, 2012 11:59 AM

    Tebow 3:16
    For God so loved the world that he gave his 2nd son to squash the rapers playoff run.

    316 yds passing against Steelers
    31.6 yards per completion
    31.6 television rating to end the game

  2. benh999 says: Jan 11, 2012 12:06 PM

    “… the Steelers have a rabid fanbase…”


  3. capslockkey says: Jan 11, 2012 12:07 PM

    Live sporting events are going to continue to outpace TV shows and more and more people are finding it easier and preferable to just stream their favorite shows through the net at a later time. I don’t get into the water cooler talk so I’d much rather watch 5 or 6 episodes of whatever show at a time.

  4. rc33 says: Jan 11, 2012 12:10 PM

    This weekends game in New England may very well obliterate all prior records.
    Like him or not, the Tebow element is immense and has obviously captured the viewing public’s attention.

  5. test2402 says: Jan 11, 2012 12:13 PM

    All because of Tim Tebow.

  6. wldkat says: Jan 11, 2012 12:30 PM

    Maybe someday baseball will learn a thing or two from the NFL : Salary Cap = Competitive Balance. I stopped watching baseball years ago. It’s not a league when some teams can spend over $200 million on players salaries and others spend $30 million. In baseball, championships aren’t won, they are bought.

  7. Justified By God says: Jan 11, 2012 12:31 PM

    Such high ratings, yet NFL games are still 90% advertising and 10% action.

  8. ravenmaniacisback says: Jan 11, 2012 12:40 PM

    How fitting the entire country saw the steelers demise!

  9. 8man says: Jan 11, 2012 12:52 PM

    So ironic that the game most fans and experts thought would be terribly one-sided and devoid of drama became the best of all four games, went into OT and garnered this viewership.

    It’s the NFL. None of us truly know what will transpire. It’s why we watch.

  10. kwas686998 says: Jan 11, 2012 1:01 PM

    Does it really come as a surprise that in the playoffs you have the highest tv ratings when the Steelers are in it. “Highest rankings since the Super Bowl XLV”, and guess who was in that one. Don’t forget the greatest Super Bowl of all against the Cardinals. When are televison stations going top get it that the Steelers equal ratings. They should have their own channel. And the cowboys call themselves America’s Team, yeah right. No Teams Fans travel and support their team like the Steelers, PERIOD !!!

  11. philrat says: Jan 11, 2012 1:34 PM

    This is why nfl teams should take a greater responsiblity for the costs of stadiums.

  12. franklapidus316 says: Jan 11, 2012 1:37 PM

    Baseball compounds the market size problem by only promoting a few teams. The world is told to stop when Yankees play Red Sox….until the next of their 18 games. Then lo and behold they’re both gone and the Phillies are gone and the Cubs/Mets/Dodgers were never close and MLB has a real problem promoting the LCS and WS.

  13. bigd9484 says: Jan 11, 2012 1:44 PM

    So you’re telling me with salary caps and leveling the playing field between the teams has created a situation where people become fans of the game, not just fans of one team?

    Incredible, too bad uncle bud is an idiot and will never learn that lesson. People don’t care because more likely than not, their teams don’t have a chance in hell to make it TO the playoffs much less win once they are there, unless they are in New York, Boston, Chicago, SF, or Phily. THATs why MLB has ratings issues, because they can’t get people to love the league vs love one team. It’s pretty sad that everyone see’s it except the guy who’s about to get an extension. When you’re getting passed (pun!) by NASCAR in viewer ratings, it’s seriously time to re-evaluate your business model.

  14. granadafan says: Jan 11, 2012 2:01 PM

    Say what you will about Tebow, he really does bring in the viewers from the rabid religious fundamentalist crowd/ Gator fans to the haters who want to see him fail. NFL doesn’t care as long as the ratings are high. Face it, they’re not getting those ratings with Orton or Quinn as QB.

  15. earthtopft says: Jan 11, 2012 2:48 PM

    More accurately Tim Tebow dominates the American television landscape. As Brett Favre did before him. The rest of the league are just bit players.

  16. KIR says: Jan 11, 2012 3:43 PM

    Everyone is making money owners, tv stations, sportscasters, blogs, reporters, advertisers ect.. and these “Fans” on here are constantly complaining about the players being overpaid, unbelievable! These players who risk broken bones, torn ligaments, head injuries and possible premature death.

  17. chazatlas says: Jan 11, 2012 5:17 PM

    Major League Baseball SUCKS! MLB is the lamest, most boring sport in existence. I’d rather watch bowling or girls basketball.

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