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There was curiosity in media circles last week if the Bucs-Patriots Sunday night matchup, Tom Brady’s return to New England, would break viewership records. To those who guessed yes, you were close.
NBC said Monday that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 19-17 victory over the New England Patriots drew 28.5 million viewers across all platforms, the second-most-watched NBC Sunday Night Football game of all time.
The network released the following notes:
Buccaneers-Patriots registered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) average of approximately 28.5 million viewers across NBC TV, Peacock, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital platforms – marking the largest NBC SNF audience since Week 17 of the 2012 season when Dallas faced Washington in a win-and-in game for the NFC East title (30.3 million viewers, 12/30/12). Bucs-Patriots also ranks as the second-most-watched NBC SNF game since the package debuted in 2006.
Buccaneers-Patriots on NBC delivered a 34 share (percentage of televisions in use tuned to the game) – the highest for any game in the history of the NBC SNF package.
Bucs-Pats adds to Sunday Night Football‘s early-season momentum. For the first time since its record-breaking 2015 season, each of SNF’s first four games of the year has averaged 20+ million viewers. NBC is in little jeopardy of falling below 20 million in Week 5, as the Bills travel to Kansas City for an AFC Championship Game rematch.
Looking ahead, last night’s game may hold its place at No. 2 for a long time. TV ratings are going backward not forward. It took a one-in-a-lifetime storyline to threaten SNF‘s record: the greatest QB of the all-time returning to the city with which he won six Super Bowls.
There will never be another Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, or return quite like that.