The numbers for the first Sunday night game of the season are in. And the results are a bit of a mixed bag.
On one hand, the 18.59 million figure (as posted at TVSeriesFinale.com) exceeds the viewership from last year’s Bears-Rams contest on the first Sunday night of the season. That game had 17.6 million viewers, 18.4 million across all platforms.
The “all platforms” figure will likely boost the total Bucs-Cowboys viewership past 19 million and toward 20 million. A better game would have helped, too.
Again, great matchups get people to tune in. Great games get them to stay. Last year’s Cowboys-Bucs game to kick off the season had an audience of roughly 26 million because it was a great matchup that became a great game. Last night’s game — pitting the top two scoring teams from the prior season against each other in Week One for the first time ever — was boring. The Cowboys scored an opening-drive field goal and then nothing thereafter. The Bucs scored four field goals and a touchdown.
It’s also possible that there’s a little audience fatigue when it comes to Tom Brady. We’ll find out in 20 days, when the Chiefs and Buccaneers play on Sunday night in Tampa. Then again, even if there’s Brady fatigue, there shouldn’t be Patrick Mahomes fatigue.
UPDATE 5:04 p.m. ET: The all-platforms number (including NBC, Peacock, and NFL Digital Properties) apparently exceeded 25 million. If the TVSeriesFinale.com numbers are right, and if the all-platform numbers are right, it means a lot of people viewed the game via Peacock or NFL Digital Properties.