- NFL averages 24.3m TV viewers across wild card weekend
- Saints’ win over Bears draws biggest audience with average 30.65m viewers
- Nickelodeon’s coverage was network’s most-watched programme in nearly four years
Nickelodeon’s kid-friendly broadcast of Sunday’s National Football League (NFL) wild card game between the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears averaged 2.06 million viewers, making it the most-watched programme on the children’s channel in nearly four years.
The alternative coverage, which ran alongside the main broadcast on CBS, featured guest reporters explaining the rules, on-field graphics and virtual filters, including ‘slime cannons’ that detonated after touchdowns.
The Saints’ 21-9 win over the Bears was the most-watched game of the round, achieving an average 30.65 million viewers across CBS, CBS All-Access and Nickelodeon. That figure was still 13 per cent down on the same window last year, when the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles pulled in 35.12 million viewers on NBC.
All told, this year’s expanded six-game wild card round averaged 24.3 million TV viewers, down about 21% from the 30.7 million who watched last year’s four-game slate.
Excluding the two extra games, the Hollywood Reporter said the four matches that aired in the same windows as those in 2020 averaged approximately 25.2 million viewers. The US-based magazine also noted that it was the smallest combined average viewership for the NFL’s wild card weekend since 2014.
The most-watched of Saturday’s matchups came on Fox, which drew an average 23.96 million viewers for its coverage of the Los Angeles Rams’ 30-20 win over the Seahawks. However, it still ranked as the network’s lowest rated wild card game since at least 1998 and least-watched since 2008, according to Sports Media Watch.
Elsewhere, NBC’s Sunday primetime coverage of the Cleveland Browns’ surprise 48-37 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers averaged 24.78 million viewers. The network’s broadcast of Saturday’s game between Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Washington Football Team roped in an average audience of 21.37 million, a drop of 32 per cent in comparison to the same window last year.
For ESPN, the network’s coverage on Saturday of the Baltimore Ravens’ 20-13 triumph over the Tennessee Titans was watched by an average 24.82 million people, down 18 per cent compared to the wild card game held in the same slot in 2020.
Finally, the opening game of the round between the Indianapolis Colts and the Buffalo Bills averaged 20.08 million, achieving the unwanted record of being the least-watched wild card game on any network since 2003.
The latest viewership drops come after the NFL recorded a seven per cent dip in ratings for its regular season, which averaged 15.4 million viewers over the course of the 17-week campaign.