The NFL’s dominance over the American television landscape continues.
Thursday night’s Ravens-Broncos NFL opener was watched by 25.1 million viewers, a 5 percent increase over the Cowboys-Giants game that kicked off the season last year.
The 25.1 million figure makes Thursday night’s game the third-most watched NFL opener since the league started opening the season on Thursday night in 2002. The 2010 and 2011 openers were both seen by more than 27 million viewers.
Those of you who joined us for the NBC Sports Live Extra stream of the game were in good company: Fans watched nearly 20.5 million minutes of game action online, easily breaking the regular-season record of 10.6 million minutes, set last season for 49ers-Patriots.
Ravens-Broncos likely would have drawn even more viewers without the 33-minute delay that caused the game to start after 9 p.m. Eastern, and would have done better still if the Broncos didn’t turn the game into a laugher in the fourth quarter, when millions of Americans surely decided it was time to go to bed as a not-very-competitive game ran past midnight on the East Coast. The NFL is so popular that a game doesn’t have to be a great one to draw a great number of viewers.