The TV ratings for NFL Wild Card Weekend are in and the numbers don’t look good for the league’s new postseason format.
According to the data experts at The Sports Daily, viewership for NFL Super Wild Card Weekend is down 4.7 percent year-over-year and ratings took an even bigger hit with a 5.9 percent drop compared to 2022.
For the second straight year, the game slotted into the late-Sunday window had the best viewership numbers and household rating. The New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings drew in 33.2 million viewers, the most of any Wild Card game in 2023.
Despite its overall success, the numbers represented a massive 20 percent drop in viewership compared to the 49ers-Cowboys Wild Card game from the same time slot in 2022.
Check out the highlights from the data below.
- NFL Super Wild Card Weekend Viewership Down 4.7%, Ratings Down 5.9%
- Giants @ Vikings Ranks As Most-Watched Game On NFL Super Wild Card Weekend
- Buffalo, Kansas City, & Cincinnati Top Local Ratings List
- Disney’s NFL Wild Card Game Viewership Up 32% To Highest Mark Ever
NFL Super Wild Card Weekend Viewership Down 4.7%, Ratings Down 5.9%
NFL Super Wild Card Weekend was filled with drama, storylines, record-setting comebacks, and stunning upsets.
While several games came down to the wire, football fans seemed less enthusiastic about the start of the NFL Playoffs compared to a year ago.
Overall, viewership numbers for the NFL Wild Card round are expected to be down by 4.7 percent YoY. After averaging 29.7 million viewers in 2022, NFL Wild Card weekend garnered just 28.3 million viewers in 2023.
Of course, those numbers are still up from the NFL’s first Super Wild Card Weekend in 2021, which drew an all-time low 24.2 million average viewers. However, ratings are still down from 2020 (30.5 million) and 2019 (28.6 million), the last two years before the NFL expanded its playoff format.
Rating also took a considerable hit in 2023, dropping by an average of 5.9 percent year-over-year.
The late time slots on Saturday and Sunday suffered the biggest declines, dropping by 20 percent (Sunday, Late) and 21.97 percent (Saturday, Late), respectively. On the other hand, the Monday Night Football game had the biggest increase with viewership sky-rocketing by 32.5 percent.
The jump can be attributed to two of the NFL’s biggest draws (Cowboys and Tom Brady) being in action.
Giants @ Vikings Ranks As Most-Watched Game On NFL Super Wild Card Weekend
With 33.2 million viewers, the Giants-Vikings game in the late window on Sunday had the most viewers of any game during NFL Super Wild Card weekend. The game also finished with the highest household rating at 16.28.
Despite being the most-watched Wild Card game of 2023, viewership was down 20 percent and household rating was down 21.7 percent year-over year.
Part of the reason for that is the 2021 Wild Card matchup between the 49ers and Cowboys averaged a whopping 41.5 viewers, making it the most-watched Wild Card game since 2015. That game also produced a 20.8 rating, a difficult mark to reach during the Wild Card round.
Overall, FOX had the most successful weekend in 2023, thanks in large part to the Giants-Vikings game.
However, the battle for No. 2 was much closer.
CBS currently owns the No. 2 spot with an average of 30.9 million viewers for the Dolphins-Bills, however, the Cowboys-Bucs are expected to top that number when official figures are released.
Initial estimates project the Cowboys and Buccaneers for 30.6 million viewers, which would make it Disney’s most-watched NFL Playoff game since 1999.
Check out how the TV ratings changed compared to 2021 below.
Buffalo, Kansas City, & Cincinnati Top Local Ratings List
All eyes were on the Bills last weekend.
Buffalo had the highest local ratings of any US market during Super Wild Card Weekend, drawing a rating of 47.2.
Even though the Chiefs weren’t in action, fans in Kansas City tuned into the opening round of the NFL Playoffs at the second-highest rate. Kansas City drew a 28.2 local rating, the second-highest of any US market.
Cincinnati, West Palm Beach, and New Orleans were next on the list of markets with the highest local ratings.
Just missing out on the top-five, Ft Myers-Naples came in at No. 6 on the list. Meanwhile, Miami-Ft Lauderdale did not even make the top-10, a sign that Dolphins’ fans weren’t heavily invested in the team’s Super Bowl run without Tua Tagovailoa.
Check out the top-5 markets in local rating during NFL Wild Card Weekend.
- Kansas City
- West Palm Beach
- New Orleans
Disney’s NFL Wild Card Game Viewership Up 32% To Highest Mark Ever
Even though the overall numbers were down, Disney’s NFL Wild Card game turned out to be a smashing success.
With an average audience of approximately 30.6 million Americans, viewership is up 32 percent YoY.
Once official numbers are released, Disney is projected to add a few hundred thousand viewers to its total.
As a result, the Cowboys-Bucs game is expected to be the network’s most-watched NFL Playoff game ever.
Last year, the Cardinals-Rams game on ESPN/ABC drew an average of just 23.15 million viewers, the lowest mark for an NFL Wild Card game on Disney since 2019.