After a politics-fueled slide for the NFL Kickoff Game, the first “Sunday Night Football” telecast of the season soared to record numbers.
The Week 1 edition of “Sunday Night Football,” pitting the Steelers against the Broncos, earned an 18.0 overnight rating on NBC — up 7% from Cowboys/Jets last year (16.9), and up 10% from Cowboys/Washington in 2010 (16.4).
The 18.0 overnight is the best for a regular season NFL game on NBC since the network resumed airing games in the 2006-07 season. The previous high was a 17.7 for the 2010 Vikings/Saints Kickoff Game.
Four of the five highest overnights have taken place in the last two seasons alone.
Overall, the 18.0 ranks as the highest for any regular season NFL telecast since last season’s Week 15 national window on CBS, which featured Patriots/Broncos (19.5), and the highest for a primetime game since Broncos/49ers on “Monday Night Football” in Week 15 of the 1997 season (19.3).
According to USA Today, the 18.0 also ranks as the highest Week 1 NFL overnight rating since the 1996-97 season, when Cowboys/Bears earned a 20.2 on ABC.