NFL sees 24% viewership uptick for Wild Card weekend

By Austin Karp

The NFL averaged around 30.2 million viewers for the six Wild Card games from Saturday through Monday night, up 24% from last season (24.2 million), when the league expanded to six games in the round for the first time. The schedule shifted this year to include a Monday night game for the first time. Last year, there were three games on Sunday, and three on Saturday. The Rams’ 34-11 win over the Cardinals on Monday averaged just over 23 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. It was the first Monday night game ever for the Wild Card round. The “ManningCast” on ESPN2 averaged 1.42 million viewers, below the regular-season average of 1.6 million for nine alternate telecasts featuring the Manning brothers. However, this game also had a simulcast of the main feed on ABC. That ABC feed averaged 12.78 million on its own, while ESPN alone averaged 8.83 million. CBS led the weekend with 41.5 million viewers for the 49ers’ close win over the Cowboys in the late Sunday afternoon window, marking the best figure for any Wild Card game in seven years. That dates back to the 42.3 million that Fox drew for Cowboys-Lions in the same window in '15, which was the last time the ratings-magnet Cowboys were featured in what is traditionally the best window for audience numbers. 49ers-Cowboys this year is CBS’ second-best Wild Card game on record (dating back to ’88).

NFL Wild Card weekend audience trend
2022 6 ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, NBC,
CBS, Nickelodeon, Fox
2021 6 ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, Freeform,
NBC, CBS, Nickelodeon, Fox
2020 4 ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox 30,541
2019 4 ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox 28,377
2018 4 ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox 25,293
2017 4 ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox 30,274
2016 4 ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox 32,600
2015 4 ESPN, NBC, CBS, Fox 29,900
2014 4 NBC (x2), CBS, Fox 34,700
2013 4 NBC (x2), CBS, Fox 30,300
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