The initial numbers published on Monday by TVSeriesFinale.com and widely distributed online were light. By a lot.
The TV audience for the Buccaneers-Cowboys game to cap the first Sunday of the regular season wasn’t 18.59 million. The full and correct number was, per NBC, 23.3 million.
Throw in the digital viewership (including 1.65 million Peacock streams, a record), and the total audience maxed out at 25.1 million.
That’s a 35-percent increase over the Week One Sunday night game between the Bears and Rams, and it’s the most-watched Sunday night opener since 2015, when Giants vs. Cowboys generated 26.9 million.
In two days, the NFL launches its streaming experiment, with Chiefs-Chargers available only on Amazon Prime Video. The game will be televised via over-the-air networks in the home markets of the two teams. The total audience will likely be far less than 25.1 million, but the league knows that. This is about pivoting to the manner in which the consumption of video is changing. Fewer people than ever are watching traditional TV.
Which makes it even more impressive that pro football can consistently gather a massive audience to watch traditional TV at a time when few if any other products can.