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Return of Peyton Manning brings huge TV ratings to NBC

Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos Getty Images

Last year, Tim Tebow made the Denver Broncos a big television draw. This year, Peyton Manning has made the Broncos an even bigger draw.

NBC announced this morning that the Broncos’ victory over the Steelers on Sunday night, in Manning’s first game back after a year off, yielded an overnight rating of 18.0, which is the highest rating for any prime time regular-season game ever on NBC. The previous best was a 17.7 rating for the 2010 kickoff game, which was an NFC Championship Game rematch between the Super Bowl champion Saints and Brett Favre’s Vikings.

The Steelers-Broncos rating is up 8 percent from last year’s first Sunday Night Football game, the Cowboys at the Jets. That game drew a 16.9 rating.

The huge TV ratings are evidence of Manning’s stardom, but also another reminder of the incredible popularity of the NFL. In a 500-channel world where TV ratings are in decline for basically everything, the NFL seems immune to that decline. The record ratings numbers just keep coming.

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42 Responses to “Return of Peyton Manning brings huge TV ratings to NBC”
  1. jimr10 says: Sep 10, 2012 10:20 AM

    Be interesting to see how many hate Manning comments are made.

  2. succulentnipples says: Sep 10, 2012 10:20 AM

    It really is a pleasure watching the guy work. It shows you don’t have to be crazy athletic to be a quarterback, just smart.

  3. voiceofreasonsays says: Sep 10, 2012 10:21 AM

    RGIII would have quadrupled that rating.

  4. h3min1230 says: Sep 10, 2012 10:25 AM

    I fear that with all these rule changes that soon those numbers will see a significant decline.

    Hope I’m wrong though.

  5. eastsideballa says: Sep 10, 2012 10:27 AM

    I bet SF fans are hoping this Sunday night’s game against the Lions will have a record low audience just so the world doesn’t see the Lions destroy the Niners.

  6. ch1ggs says: Sep 10, 2012 10:27 AM

    Incredible ratings. I guess it shouldn’t be such a surprise considering it featured two excellent teams with two outstanding QBs.

    Just a shame that America had to see such an atrocious officiating job by the refs. How anybody thinks these guys are doing an adequate job is beyond me. I’ll admit to being critical of the old guys, but after yesterday I feel like praying to whatever god is out there to solve this dispute via deus ex machina.

  7. 4t9er says: Sep 10, 2012 10:33 AM

    I hate to say it but the Steelers have a huge fanbase and I’m sure they played an even bigger role in the ratings.

  8. starfan79 says: Sep 10, 2012 10:38 AM

    Happy to see #18 back on the field.. If he is a work in progress still and has limitations, I’d hate to face him at 100%.. He looked like the old Manning last night.

  9. kash71 says: Sep 10, 2012 10:38 AM

    As a Bronco Fan I always hated Peyton Manning. I never paid attention to how he works.

    I was floored last night and started thanking the football gods that the Colts released him.

  10. golonger says: Sep 10, 2012 10:42 AM

    I think the ugly wobblers Manning threw lowered the ratings a few points at least. Old blimphead’s days are numbered!

  11. thraiderskin says: Sep 10, 2012 10:49 AM

    I’m really glad Peyton is back, just not happy he plays for the Broncos.

  12. dlc618 says: Sep 10, 2012 10:55 AM

    I’m not his biggest fan, but he was fantastic last night.

  13. ningenito78 says: Sep 10, 2012 10:55 AM

    And just another step to having football on TV 7 days a week.

  14. johnnybgood19 says: Sep 10, 2012 10:57 AM

    People who don’t know football, know and like Payton…. aside from being a great quarterback he is a show in and of himself with all the antics at the line of schrimage…. Orange cone, reroute!

  15. ch1ggs says: Sep 10, 2012 10:57 AM

    Did anyone notice Polamalu’s declining play? He looks absolutely ferocious in terms of speed when it comes to situations that involve distances from 5-10 yards, but once a play gets stretched out he really loses his steam.

    I did like his Judo arm grab of DT. Good stuff there. As players get older and fatter they need to get smarter, and Troy most certainly proved he’s one of the smartest defensive players in the league.

  16. randyschwimmer7 says: Sep 10, 2012 10:59 AM

    As a Broncos fan, I am sure the rest of the AFC West just shat themselves after watching that game. I know if I were a fan of the other teams in the AFC West, I would be extremely worried. That no huddle offense in the mile high air is going to cause problems for A LOT of teams.

    It was definitely nice to see Peyton Manning back. I honestly think he is good for the NFL. I have always been a fan of the way he works. Just masterful.

  17. golonger says: Sep 10, 2012 11:00 AM

    Steelers played like they did in last year’s opener. They were horribly flat on offense and defense. Big Ben looked like he didn’t even want to be there. Just keep thinking the Broncos are going somewhere this year!

  18. tmac4454 says: Sep 10, 2012 11:02 AM

    Watching the General at work, you can’t get any better than this. Peyton is a master at the QB position. He directs traffic, make players around better. I just could not help myself watching him last night perfecting his craft against the Steelers. Peyton & Polomalu toying with each other, (priceless).

  19. footballchic777 says: Sep 10, 2012 11:03 AM

    I am sure there were a lot of Steeler fans AND Broncos fans watching, but I am sure there were more watching to see how Peyton looked…..AND HE LOOKED AWESOME! Yes, he had a couple of wobblers. He has had those before. But putting together his physical abilities and his mental prowess, you are seeing one of the best QBs you will ever see! RG3 is a good QB that will probably be a great QB, but he would not have drawn these numbers. It was a great duel between 2 playoffs teams from last year, here the Broncos surprisingly ousted the Steelers, AND, it was opening weekend

  20. footballchic777 says: Sep 10, 2012 11:05 AM

    ……where the Broncos surprisingly ousted the Steelers….AND opening weekend! Win/Win for NBC! It was a great day of football!

  21. jjackwagon says: Sep 10, 2012 11:14 AM

    Peyton looked good last night. As long as his 36 year old body can hold up for a full season there is no reason the Broncos can’t repeat in the AFC West.
    If he goes down, all bets are off.

  22. irongershwin says: Sep 10, 2012 11:14 AM

    Peyton looked fantastic, and the Steelers looked really old and slow.

  23. dowhatifeellike says: Sep 10, 2012 11:15 AM

    Denver finally got what they needed – a competent QB to compliment their defense. They can win without Manning being his old self, but if he finds it, watch out.

  24. cztikhldr4evr says: Sep 10, 2012 11:34 AM

    Has a diehard Colts fan, really hated to Peyton leave, but I also know why Irsay had to do it too. Great to watch him back in form, Glad we don’t have to play him too, same with stokley, for a old man he can still catch the rock,
    Sorry guys but both of them will always be a Colt

  25. frostymugobeer says: Sep 10, 2012 11:36 AM

    golonger says:
    Sep 10, 2012 10:42 AM
    I think the ugly wobblers Manning threw lowered the ratings a few points at least. Old blimphead’s days are numbered!

    now that’s funny…..the Man-ning looked to be ready to roll and showed some serious pin-point accuracy.especially when you consider it was his 1st reg season game in almost 2 years.
    i would think the other teams in the west just got a little nervous.

  26. 49erstim says: Sep 10, 2012 11:53 AM

    I like Peyton a lot as an entertainer. He is a funny dude. those DirecTV commercials are pretty funny. he is a really good QB too. I just take exception with the “greatest of all time” stuff. He isn’t nearly “clutch” enough. Great Win for him last night against a quality opponent, even if they were banged up a bit.

  27. jeremycrowhurst says: Sep 10, 2012 12:12 PM

    At all my fantasy drafts, people kept saying the same things — “We don’t even know if Peyton can throw; we don’t even know if Thomas can catch” as the two of them kept getting drafted higher than conventional wisdom dictated.

    Both questions answered in the affirmative. Welcome back, Peyton.

  28. joetoronto says: Sep 10, 2012 12:15 PM

    I’ve always been a big fan of the guy, he’s crazy talented in many ways, not all football related.

    He looked the same to me as far as his demeanor goes, but he didn’t have the same zip on his throws that he usually does.

  29. randyschwimmer7 says: Sep 10, 2012 12:20 PM

    cztikhldr4evr says:
    Sep 10, 2012 11:34 AM
    Has a diehard Colts fan, really hated to Peyton leave, but I also know why Irsay had to do it too. Great to watch him back in form, Glad we don’t have to play him too, same with stokley, for a old man he can still catch the rock,
    Sorry guys but both of them will always be a Colt

    ___________________________

    While I understand that Manning will always be a Colt, you cannot say that for Stokes. He was only with the Colts for four years. As he was with Baltimore, and now Denver. So it is really a toss up. I would say he will be remembered as more of just a serviceable veteran that has two Super Bowl rings. Plus, he will always be the SLOT MACHINE.

  30. denverscott says: Sep 10, 2012 12:21 PM

    golonger says: Sep 10, 2012 11:00 AM

    Steelers played like they did in last year’s opener. They were horribly flat on offense and defense. Big Ben looked like he didn’t even want to be there. Just keep thinking the Broncos are going somewhere this year!

    Typical 14 year old Pit fan. Hatin’ and complainin’. Your team was outplayed when it counted…period. That’s 2 out of the last 2 for the Broncos so go to room, lick your nuts, and wimper yourself to sleep little boy. That is IF they’ve dropped yet.

  31. tamster59 says: Sep 10, 2012 12:43 PM

    I watched the game because it was Sunday night football not because it was the return of Peyton Manning.

  32. mgifford15 says: Sep 10, 2012 12:44 PM

    Seems like manning took a few hits last night and oh wait, looks like he’ll play next week. So much for that tired saying of “one hit and he’s done”. Hmm wonder what the next tired saying will be?

    GO BRONCOS!!

  33. bobzilla1001 says: Sep 10, 2012 12:54 PM

    irongershwin:
    Aside from 10-year veteran Polamalu, there’s nothing “old” about the Steelers’ defense.
    Gone are James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Chris Hoke. Missing from Sunday night’s game were “oldtimers” James Harrison and Ryan Clark.
    I’d say the Steelers’ D, which was built more on team chimistry than individual talent, is in a rebuilding process, which might take a few seasons to complete. I expect this to be Polamalu’s final sesason.
    Might be time for Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ young offense to start carrying the team…
    Scary as that may sound.

  34. dougydougdoug says: Sep 10, 2012 1:20 PM

    denverscott:

    Manning was on a Colts team with some of the absolute best talent for a number of seasons in a row. While he was younger, and healthier. What did he get out of that deal? One ring. That’s certainly great, but for a guy who is arguably one of the best to have ever played the game, he is lagging beyond inferior QB’s in total championships.

    So, that brings us to Denver, now. The team is solid, and has some good young talent. However, I don’t think they’re close to matching some of Manning’s Colts squads of the past.

    Also, the AFC West is NOT the AFC South. Payton could always expect six free wins a season. In the West, historically, it’s more like a split. Not sure about KC, but I’ll almost guarantee that the Chargers and the Raiders will each take a game from Denver this year. Likely, more. In fact, I’d say there is a chance that the Chargers sweep the Broncos. For whatever the reason, SD clearly has Manning’s number. He can’t seem to beat them.

  35. mrplow3 says: Sep 10, 2012 1:42 PM

    You know what’s funny?

    The arguably two greatest QB’s of all time (Montana, Manning) are neither athletic OR have big arms.

  36. ravenator says: Sep 10, 2012 2:02 PM

    Steelers are basement dwellers.

  37. dowhatifeellike says: Sep 10, 2012 2:21 PM

    mrplow3 says:
    Sep 10, 2012 1:42 PM
    You know what’s funny?

    The arguably two greatest QB’s of all time (Montana, Manning) are neither athletic OR have big arms.

    —–

    Maddux style.

  38. cedarstrength says: Sep 10, 2012 2:32 PM

    I am a huge Steelers fan and I am sure the big Steelers fan base played a role in the ratings last night, but I have to admit I was looking forward to seeing how Peyton would look after his long off-season and rehab. He proved last night that a cerebral QB can have just as dangerous of an effect on opposing defenses as one who can sling it all over the place. I thought his throws weren’t as polished as in years past, but it didn’t really matter. Peyton controlled the Denver offense like a beast. Hats off to him. He is good for the sport and I’m glad he’s back. I would have litked it if Pittsburgh won though. Lets hope Pittsburgh can get it’s line healthy and win some games.

  39. pftcensorssuck says: Sep 10, 2012 2:34 PM

    joetoronto says:Sep 10, 2012 12:15 PM

    I’ve always been a big fan of the guy, he’s crazy talented in many ways, not all football related.

    He looked the same to me as far as his demeanor goes, but he didn’t have the same zip on his throws that he usually does.
    ———————————————————-
    This moron apparently didn’t see the graphic which compared a cross-field pass Manning threw a couple of years ago at 48 MPH, versus the same pass he threw last night at 47.

    Yeah, dude has slipped badly, a whole MPH.

    I’m a Pat’s fan who has always respected Manning, and I knew Manning wouldn’t bother coming back if he didn’t think he still had it; I thought Irsay was a fool for letting him go, and I thought the Donks would be a powerhouse and the Division champs with him stepping in as a serious threat at QB, and it was awesome to see him as sharp and crisp as he was against a solid defense in his first game in two years.

    The Raiduhs and the Bolts just slipped badly in the Division… VERY badly. Manning is back, he’s as good as he ever was, and dude has something major to prove.

    Be afraid ….. be very afraid.

  40. sundog05 says: Sep 10, 2012 2:39 PM

    Great time to be a Broncos fan. Loved Tomlin’s face when Porter flew by him with the ball at Mach 3. Peyton was a huge pickup but picking up Porter was a coup for Elfox.

  41. bobzilla1001 says: Sep 10, 2012 5:15 PM

    dougydougdoug:
    There’s a simple reason for other, less distinguished quarterbacks winning more Super Bowls than Peyton Manning: Those other quarterbacks were on better TEAMS!!!
    Football is the Ultimate Team Sport.
    If having the best quarterback were the answer to all things football, Dan Marino would have more than zero rings.
    Stop watching ESPN!!!
    The minute the 49ers or Jets win a Super Bowl, ESPN will be the first to crown Alex Smith or Mark Sanchez “elite.”

  42. antibenapalooza says: Sep 10, 2012 7:02 PM

    cedarstrength,

    I was a lifelong Stiller fan until 03/05/10. They must get rid of Rottenberger before I will be one again. In the meantime, I am sorry to say they deserve every loss they get with him on the team.

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