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NFL playoffs divisional round scores highest ever viewership

Stellar postseason matchups draw total domestic audience of more than 152m.

26 January 2022 Rory Jones

Getty Images

  • Four divisional round games average 38.2m viewers
  • Digital coverage up 47% on 2020, 88% on 2019
  • 63.3bn minutes of 2021 NFL playoff coverage have been consumed 

The National Football League’s (NFL) divisional round playoff games reached an average of 38.2 million domestic viewers across TV and digital, the highest number ever recorded for that stage of the postseason.

Bolstered by exciting finishes in all four matches, the NFL said that Nielsen, Adobe Analytics and first-party digital data confirmed average audiences were up 20 per cent on 2020, and up 12 per cent on the 2019 season.

The four games generated a total viewership of 152 million across CBS, NBC and Fox, which are three of the league’s domestic broadcasters.

Live game coverage also averaged 1.6 million viewers per minute via digital across the NFL, Yahoo Sports and networks’ streaming platforms. The digital figure is the highest ever average minute audience (AMA) for the divisional round, marking a 47 per cent increase on 2020, and up 88 per cent on 2019.

Through the opening two weeks of the NFL playoffs – the wild card weekend and divisional round – an average of 33.6 million viewers are watching each game across both TV and digital, which marks the league’s highest figures since the 2015 season.

In addition, 63.3 billion minutes of the 2021 NFL playoffs have been consumed so far, which is the highest total on record for this stage of the playoffs.

Average audience numbers for the postseason matches are up 21 per cent on last year, with the number of minutes consumed seeing a 20 per cent increase on 2020, and a 29 per cent increase on the 2019 season.

Earlier this month, the San Francisco 49ers’ 23-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys was watched by 41.5 million viewers on CBS, the highest figure for a wild card playoff game in seven years, with coverage peaking at 50.2 million.

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