Last year, the AFC and NFC Championship games featured exciting, close contests that went to overtime. One, the Rams win over the Saints, sparked a major controversy regarding uncalled defensive pass interference.
This, the games weren’t as compelling. And the TV ratings reflected that.
Via Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily, both games drew significantly smaller audiences.
The AFC Championship, played in the 3:05 p.m. ET window on CBS, drew 41.1 million average viewers. The early game in 2019, Rams-Saints on FOX, averaged just over 44 million.
The NFC title game attracted an average crowd of 42.7 million viewers for FOX in the 6:40 p.m. ET window. That’s a huge drop in comparison to last year’s 53.9-million audience that saw the Patriots beat the Chiefs in overtime on CBS in the late window.
With the Patriots not in the AFC Championship for the first time since 2011, the AFC title game attracted its smallest audience in 11 years, when the Ravens and Steelers generated 40.6 million in early 2009.
It’s not bad news as much as it’s expected news for the NFL. The games were far less competitive, causing folks who started watching to tune out and/or folks who didn’t initially watch the game to choose not to tune in.