NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Ratings Breakdown

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The second round of the NFL playoffs is in the books, so it’s a good time to look at the TV viewership compared to last season. Here are the numbers (this year’s are via Showbuzz Daily, last year’s are via Sports Media Watch):

You always want to see a positive percent change rather than a negative one, but these aren’t devastating numbers for the NFL. To put the numbers into perspective, the least watched game of this weekend, Ravens-Bills with 26.24 million viewers, had more viewers than every non-NFL sporting event of 2020 (the LSU-Clemson national title game had 25.6 million viewers).

The NFL playoffs, while down, are holding up better year-over-year than other sporting events. The NBA Finals were down 51 percent, World Series ratings were down 36 percent, and the college football national title game was down 27 percent.

News continues to eat at sports viewership on the margins. For example, this past Saturday at 5:00 pm on CNN, Situation Room averaged 2.2 million viewers. Last year, on the corresponding Saturday — January 18th — at 5:00 pm, CNN Newsroom averaged 683,000 viewers. This year, nine MSNBC shows made the Showbuzz Daily top 150 cable programs on Saturday; last year, it was four.

Hopefully we can at least reach a point in the world where the news calms down, even if those viewers don’t return to sports.

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.


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  1. i wonder if media ratings are like legal fees.

    in the legal world, $250 per hour is really $250 for the first 15 minutes. after that, i’m charging you an estimate on my time and then sending you a bill.

    across all media platforms, i wonder if ‘clicks’ count as ratings points. and if so, maybe clicks add up to 15 minutes and thats counted as a viewer?

    i change the channel a lot even during a good game. especially every time i see a social justice commercial. i thought Obama solved all that.

    it just seems that media ad dollars are being spent, but without knowledge of the audience.

    • Bingo. Absolutely on point. Includes out of home viewership. The ratings should’ve been historic. Go try and tell that to someone anywhere but OK. “Well, it was a global pandemic and…”And shoot me in the face with a large bullet. People were at home the whole season. Christ. Reminds me of Pineapple express.

      Dale Denton : [sarcastically] Okay… Uhh let’s go… No… It’s not working… the battery’s dead.
      Saul : Wait…! What do you mean, it’s dead?
      Dale Denton : [laughing] What do I mean? I mean the battery’s dead. The battery’s dead!
      Saul : No, no! What do you mean, the battery’s dead?
      Dale Denton : How can I explain this to you differently? The battery is dead. It ceased to live. It’s deceased now. The car needs a battery to start, Saul.

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