A close finish between two high-profile teams boosted CBS to the largest audience ever for an NFL Wild Card game.
Sunday’s AFC Wild Card game, an overtime victory for the Broncos over the Steelers, earned a 24.0 final rating and 42.371 million viewers on CBS — up 9% in ratings and 8% in viewership from last year’s comparable game (GB/PHI: 22.1, 39.274M, FOX), and up 22% and 23%, respectively, from the comparable game in 2010 (GB/ARI: 19.6, 34.406M).
Steelers/Broncos ranks as the highest rated NFL Wild Card game since the 1994-95 season (KC/MIA: 24.1, ABC), and the most-viewed Wild Card game on record. The previous viewership record was held by last year’s aforementioned Packers/Eagles game.
From 8:00-8:13 PM ET, when the Broncos scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime, the game averaged a whopping 29.7 rating and 54.346 million viewers.
Sunday’s game earned more viewers than all but four sports telecasts last year (2011) — the Super Bowl (GB/PIT: 111.010M), the AFC Championship Game (NYJ/PIT: 54.850M), the NFC Championship Game (GB/CHI: 51.884M), and an AFC Divisional Round game (NYJ/NE: 43.463M).
(Sunday’s numbers from CBS Sports press release via Fang’s Bites)