While the NFL may have trouble getting fans to purchase playoff tickets, its TV numbers continue to be as strong as ever.
Following a season where each of the league's broadcast partners recorded year-over-year gains -- including Fox and NFL Network posting best-ever seasons -- the opening weekend of the playoffs continued that ratings momentum. The four games (three of which were decided by three or fewer points) on Saturday and Sunday averaged a record 34.7 million viewers, up 14% over last year.
Fox's strong season continued with its coverage of Sunday's San Francisco 49ers-Green Bay Packers matchup, which drew a wildcard record 47.1 million viewers during the late-afternoon window. The game -- a 23-20 last-second win by the 49ers in sub-zero temperatures at Lambeau Field -- was 11% higher than the previous record (42.4 million) and 24% over Fox's game last year, which aired in the same 4:40 p.m. ET slot.
CBS' coverage of the early game on Sunday between the San Diego Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals -- a 27-10 blowout by the Chargers -- was up 4% over last year's early game with 30.9 million viewers.
NBC's Wildcard Saturday doubleheader averaged 30.8 million viewers, up 14% over last year and was NBC's most-watched since it began airing the doubleheader.
The 4:30 p.m. ET late-afternoon game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts drew 27.6 million viewers, up 17% from last year's early Saturday game. The 45-44 win by the Colts was the second-largest comeback in NFL history. The night game between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles -- also won by the Saints on a last-second field goal -- drew 34.4 million viewers, up 14% from last year's night game and was the most-watched Wildcard Saturday game ever.
(Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)