Monstrous Chiefs-Bills Ratings Prove Patrick Mahomes is New Tom Brady of NFL Viewership

Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes / Al Bello/GettyImages

Sunday evening's postseason rematch between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills was highly anticipated by both the hardcore sports fans and casual fans alike. One does not need to watch First Take to understand the major players and what was at stake. Patrick Mahomes vs. Josh Allen with a trip to the AFC Championship on the line is simple and intriguing, and these teams have a track record of playing competitive, close games. This year had an extra Taylor Swift element, too.

People were always going to watch in large quantities. Then Mahomes and Allen delivered another incredible game that came down to the wire and ended in heartbreak for Buffalo (again). All that drove absolutely massive viewership numbers. CBS announced on Tuesday that over 50 million people tuned in to watch, numbers nigh unheard-of (even for the NFL, which is king) outside of Super Bowls.

Just absolutely gigantic numbers. As noted by CBS it's a 10 percent increase over last year's window, which featured the longtime ratings giant Dallas Cowboys. It's legitimately impressive that CBS was able to pull this off, even for a big playoff game; numbers north of 50 million viewers are always reserved for either the Championship Game or the Super Bowl. That's the biggest takeaway. These are stupidly big numbers.

The other takeaway involves Mahomes. His track record in the viewership department has always been stellar. He started his career as a must-watch superstar and has only gotten better. He is box office, as Stephen A. Smith likes to say, and one of the few athletes who people shift their schedule around to watch. It's been like that for a few years now. But now that Mahomes is setting records, it feels appropriate to draw a parallel to his only modern NFL viewership equivalent-- Tom Brady.

There's a lot that goes into viewership for an NFL game, like the quality of the teams and the stakes. But the superstars are what drive the biggest numbers, and there was no bigger superstar than Tom Brady. Brady's opening night with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his return to New England are two of the five highest-rated regular season games in football history. His impact obviously extends to the postseason; the last time Brady was in a Championship Game, he helped drive 46 million viewers for Packers-Bucs. His final AFCCG as a Patriot was in 2019 and 53 million people tuned in to watch.

Networks were always thrilled when they got Brady for any game, but especially in the playoffs. Mahomes is that guy now. A mere divisional round game broke the 50-million viewer mark and the peak of 56 million was more than the Chiefs-Patriots Championship Game five years ago. You cannot solely attribute it to Mahomes but you can successfully argue that there is a big bump thanks to his participation, which is a status very, very few players are capable of reaching.

Brady might be gone but we've known Mahomes was his heir apparent for years. Now it's true even in the viewership realm. Mahomes is the new Brady and networks will continue to fight tooth and nail for the right to broadcast his games.