In March, the NFL’s owners likely will vote to expand the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams. That would mean two more games in the wild-card round, an increase from four to six.
Which would mean 50 percent more games that America watches by the tens of millions. Specifically the four wild-card games generated an average audience of 29.9 million, even though one of the games was on cable. The FOX game between the Lions and Cowboys had an average audience of 42.3 million, with a peak of 48.3 million viewers between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET.
The league was poised to decided in March 2014 that the playoff field will be expanded in 2015. The NFL apparently decided that it made much more sense to wait until 2015 to expand the playoff field in 2015. Otherwise, Texans and Eagles fans would currently be having a hard time understanding why they didn’t get a shot at the Broncos and Packers, respectively, this weekend.
Next year, look for the NFL to have six games instead of four in the wild-card round. If they pick the right windows for the games, that average audience could go well over 30 million.