HOUSTON – The good news on the television ratings front keeps coming for the National Football League (NFL), with viewer numbers released this week for the wild card round of the playoffs showing solid improvement over 2018.
On the heels of a nearly 8 percent rise in viewers during the regular season, the king of US sports is now enjoying better ratings for the playoffs.
The league lost viewers in the past two seasons due to the controversial national anthem protests staged by players.
The preliminary figures released by the NFL on Monday were confirmed on Wednesday by different companies that provide television and online ratings.
The viewer numbers for last weekend’s four wild card playoff games averaged 28.4 million.
The numbers marked a 12 percent increase, compared to last year, even though some teams with large national followings, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, of the American Football Conference (AFC), and the Green Bay Packers, of the National Football Conference (NFC), missed the playoffs.
The NFC wild card playoff game between the Chicago Bears and the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles had the highest ratings, drawing an average of almost 35.86 million viewers, a record for a wild card game on NBC.
The previous record had been set on Jan. 3, 1988, when the Seattle Seahawks played the erstwhile Houston Oilers in a game watched by 45.1 million people.
The NFL also got good news on the streaming front, with viewership up 139 percent to an average of 496,000 views per minute.
On tap for this weekend are the four divisional round playoff games, featuring the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday and the New England Patriots battling the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday in the AFC.
In the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams play the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, while the New Orleans Saints take on the Eagles on Sunday.