A massive television audience tuned in to Thursday’s NFL season opener between the Vikings and Saints.
Thursday’s Vikings/Saints NFL Kickoff Game drew a 16.5 final rating and 27.485 million viewers on NBC, up 29% in ratings and 32% in viewership from Titans/Steelers last year (12.8, 20.909 mil), up 92% and 103%, respectively, from Washington/Giants in an earlier timeslot in 2008 (8.6, 13.531 mil) and up 44% and 55%, respectively, from Saints/Colts in 2007 (11.5, 17.791 mil).
This marks the highest rated, most-viewed NFL Kickoff Game ever, easily topping the previous highs of 12.9 (Jets/Washington in 2003) and 20.909 million viewers (Titans/Steelers).
Vikings/Saints ranks as the highest rated, most-viewed regular season NFL game on NBC since the network reacquired NFL rights in 2006.
Thursday’s game drew the third-highest rating for any NFL telecast on NBC — regular season or playoffs — since 2006, behind only an Eagles/Cowboys playoff game in January of this year (18.0) and Super Bowl XLIII (42.0).
Overall, the game drew both the NFL’s largest opening weekend audience and its largest primetime regular season audience since 1996.
Compared to other sports, the Kickoff Game stands as the highest rated sporting event since the Night Five of the Winter Olympics (16.7) and the most viewed since Game 7 of the Celtics/Lakers NBA Finals (28.203 mil).
The game ranks as the 14th-most viewed sporting event of 2010, behind nine NFL playoff games, two Winter Olympics telecasts, the BCS National Championship Game and Celtics/Lakers Game 7.
Among adults 18-49, the game drew a massive 10.7 rating — up 24% from last year (8.6) and up 98% from 2008 (5.4). The 10.7 is the largest rating in the demographic for any sporting event since Celtics/Lakers Game 7 (11.4). For comparison purposes, the BCS National Championship Game drew a 10.5 in the demo.