NFL wild-card games draw biggest audience since 2016

The Big Game

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry leaves the field after winning an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the New England Patriots, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The NFL wild-card playoff games were the most watched opening weekend in four years.

The four games averaged 30.5 million viewers, which was a 7% increase over last season, boosted by one-score finishes, including a pair that went into overtime.

Seattle’s 17-9 victory over Philadelphia on NBC — which was the final game of the weekend — drew the most viewers as it averaged 35.8 million, according to Nielsen and Abode Analytics. That also makes it television’s most-watched show since last year’s Super Bowl.

The late Sunday afternoon matchup was also the most watched wild-card game featuring a West Coast team since San Francisco vs. Green Bay in 2014.

Saturday night’s Tennessee-New England game on CBS averaged 31.42 million viewers. Viewership of the Titans’ 20-13 victory was up 1% from the last time the network had a prime-time AFC first-round game, when Pittsburgh-Cincinnati in 2016 drew 31.23 million.

Minnesota’s 26-20 victory in overtime at New Orleans on Fox — the early game on Sunday — averaged 30.79 million viewers, making it the network’s most watched game since last year’s NFC championship game between the Saints and Los Angeles Rams.

Houston’s 22-19 OT victory over Buffalo on ESPN and ABC Saturday averaged 26.41 million, making it the most-viewed NFL wild-card game since they started airing the opening postseason game in 2015.

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