NFC, AFC Title Games Deliver Monumental Ratings for Fox, CBS
It was a historic day in the ratings on Sunday, as a astounding number of Americans tuned in to watch the NFC and AFC Championship games on Fox and CBS.
The Giants thrilling overtime victory over the 49ers on Fox was the third most-watched Conference Championship Game ever, averaging 57.6 million viewers, and tied the 2010 NFC Championship as the highest rated since 1996 with a 30.6/44 fast-national rating/share.
Meanwhile, the Patriots stunning defeat of the Ravens on CBS was the most watched early-window AFC Championship in 30 years, averaging 48.7 million viewers, and the highest rated in 18 years, averaging a 29.1/31 overnight household rating/share.
NFC Championship on Fox
Fox’s NFC coverage trails only the 1982 Cowboys-49ers NFC Championship Game (68.7 million viewers on CBS) and 2010’s overtime Vikings-Saints NFC Championship (57.9 million viewers on FOX) as the highest rated Conference Championship games of all time. In addition, the rating NFC battle ties with 2010’s game (Vikings/Saints – 30.6/45) as the highest-rated NFC Championship Game since 1996 (Packers/Cowboys – 33.3/58).
The 30.6/44 is up 9% over last year’s 28.1/50 for Packers/Bears in the early window and is 8% better than last year’s 28.3/43 for Jets/Steelers in the late window on CBS. The game peaked at 36.9/52 rating and 69.0 million viewers from 10:00 – 10:30 PM ET, when the game went into overtime.
The 2012 NFC Playoffs on FOX averaged a 23.9/43 (42.6 million viewers), making it the network’s most-watched NFL Playoffs ever. The average for FOX Sports’ coverage of the NFC’s Wild Card, Divisional and Conference Championship rounds is up 11% over last year’s 21.6/39 (38.7 million) and is FOX’s highest-rated NFL Playoffs since 1996’s 25.1/48 (37.2 million). The complete 2011-12 NFL season on FOX averaged over 23.2 million viewers for the regular season and playoffs combined, making it FOX’s most-watched NFL season ever, excluding Super Bowls.
Locally, San Francisco posted a 47.4/77, the second highest-rated NFL on FOX postseason game ever in the city. New York notched a 41.8/58, FOX’s best NFL rating ever in the city for a non-Super Bowl game. Curious Patriot fans in Boston tuned-in to find out who New England’s opponent would be, posting a 35.1/49, Boston’s highest-rating NFL on FOX non- Super Bowl playoff game. Other metered markets of note include Los Angeles (28.4/49) and Detroit (30.2/42).
AFC Championship on CBS
CBS Sport’s AFC Championship coverage delivered the highest viewer average for the early AFC Championship game since 1982, when 51.6 million viewers turned into San Diego-Cincinnati: NBC). The telecast also marked the second most-watched AFC Championship Game in any TV window (behind last year’s 54.9 million for New York Jets-Pittsburgh) since the 1982 title game.
In terms of fast-national live + same-day average household ratings, the game posted a rating/share of 27.4/48, the highest rating for an early AFC Championship game in 17 years (1/15/1995; 28.3/58; San Diego-Pittsburgh; NBC). The Network’s coverage in the comparable early window in 2010 earned a 26.3/47 (New York Jets-Indianapolis) and last year earned a 28.3/43 (New York Jets-Pittsburgh) in the late window. The rating peaked at a 31.2/52 with an average of 56.8 million viewers from 5:30-6:00 PM ET, as the Pats and Ravens came down to the wire.
Games Deliver North of the Border
It wasn’t just the Stateside networks delivering big numbers on Sunday. In Canada, CTV earned an average audience of 2.4 million viewers for the NFC Championship, making it the most-watched television program in Canada Sunday night. The audience was up 15% compared to last year (Pittsburgh-New York Jets, 2.06 million viewers).
Earlier in the day the New England-Baltimore AFC Conference Championship attracted an average audience of 2.05 million viewers on CTV, up 2% compared to last year’s afternoon championship game on CTV (Green Bay-Chicago, 2 million viewers)
Overall, more than 10.8 million Canadians tuned in to watch some or all of the NFL Conference Championships on CTV on Sunday.