If you were tuned into CBS on Sunday for the Kansas City Chiefs’ wild playoff win over the Buffalo Bills, then you were part of television history.
The Chiefs’ 27-24 victory had an average audience of 50.393 million, which is an astronomical number. Not only was it the most-watched divisional playoff game in NFL history — it was the first one to top 50 million — but the viewing number also topped the average viewership for every NFC championship game played over the past five years. The viewing number peaked with 56.25 million people watching at one point in the second half.
The matchup in Buffalo had all the makings of a TV hit:
There was drama. The Bills and Chiefs have one of the biggest rivalries in football and they were facing each other with a spot in the AFC Championship on the line. There were stars on the field. Two-time MVP Patrick Mahomes was looking to win the first road playoff game of his career against a Buffalo team that beat him during the regular season. For the Bills, Josh Allen was trying to earn his first career postseason win against the Chiefs. There were stars off the field. Taylor Swift showed up to support Travis Kelce, but she’s not the one who went viral. Travis’ brother, Jason, was all over the internet on Sunday after deciding to go shirtless at the game while pounding a few beers.
The win by the Chiefs was the most-watched program on any network since Super Bowl LVII back in February, a game that also involved the Chiefs.
The divisional round ended up setting all sorts of records for NFL viewership. Here’s a quick look at how the other games fared:
Ravens 34-10 over Texans (ESPN/ABC). This game scored an average audience of 31.8 million, which made it the most watched NFL game in ESPN’s history. The all-sports network has been airing NFL games since 1987. This was the early game on Saturday, which generally registers the lowest viewing number of the weekend. 49ers 24-21 over Packers (Fox). The 49ers comeback win was a huge hit for Fox with an average viewership number of 37.5 million. That number makes the game the most-watched Saturday telecast on any network since the Winter Olympics in 1994. The game kicked off at 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday. Lions 31-23 over Buccaneers (NBC). Apparently, a lot of people were interested in watching the Lions try to advance to the NFC title game for the first time in 32 years. This game had an average of audience of 40.4 million, which made it the most-watched divisional-round playoff game on NBC since 1994.
There are only three games left in the NFL this season and two of them will be airing on CBS. Not only do we have the AFC Championship this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, but CBS will also be the home of Super Bowl LVIII, which kicks off from Las Vegas at 6:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 11.