The NFL established its typically lofty television ratings for the four divisional round playoff games over the weekend.
According to the numbers released by the NFL today, the four NFL divisional round games averaged 36.2 million viewers. The top game of the weekend, Broncos-Steelers on CBS, averaged 43.0 million viewers. The other Sunday game, Panthers-Seahawks, averaged 36.7 million viewers on FOX. Saturday games typically get lower ratings than Sunday games, and that was the case again this year with Patriots-Chiefs averaging 31.5 million viewers on CBS and Cardinals-Packers averaging 33.7 million viewers on NBC.
Those viewership levels are in line with what the NFL has generally come to expect for divisional round playoff games. Last year, the four divisional round games averaged 37.8 million viewers. In 2014, the four divisional round games averaged 34.3 million viewers.
The AFC and NFC Championship Games will likely see even higher ratings on Sunday. Broncos-Patriots, as the expected final chapter of Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady, is virtually guaranteed to be the most-watched game of the year other than the Super Bowl, and easily top the 42.1 million viewers from last year’s AFC Championship Game. The Panthers-Cardinals matchup, however, may struggle to reach the 49.8 million viewers that last year’s NFC Championship Game drew for a classic overtime battle between the Seahawks and Packers. The two conference championships together will probably average more than 45 million viewers, and 50 million viewers is possible. America just keeps watching the NFL.