While on the whole the NFL's second-ever Super Wild Card weekend was a snoozefest, the game positioned in the ideal time slot delivered in every conceivable way. San Francisco's white-knuckled victory over Dallas provided tons of intrigue, drama, and controversy. And wouldn't you know it, all of these factors combined to create boffo numbers for CBS and Nickelodeon.
From their triumphant e-mail blast:
CBS Sports and Nickelodeon’s presentation of the 49ers’ victory over the Cowboys on Sunday, Jan. 16 (4:40-8:02 PM, ET) scored as the most-watched NFL Wild Card game on any network in seven years (Detroit-Dallas, 1/4/15, 42.320), averaging 41.496 million viewers across both networks and up +35% versus last year’s comparable game.
The audience peaked with more than 50 million viewers (50.229) for the game’s conclusion.
Paramount+ registered its most-streamed non-Super Bowl NFL weekend ever and 49ers-Cowboys scored as its most-streamed non-Super Bowl game of all-time. Super Wild Card Weekend delivered double-digit year-over-year growth in total streams, streaming minutes and unique viewers from last year’s Super Wild Card games.
CBS also said Buffalo-New England drew 26.373 million viewers, a 23 percent increase from last year's time slot. Viewed together, and viewed with a full season's worth of evidence, it's another data point that football-watching remains a juggernaut. Despite a strong and persistent bad-faith effort to prove social justice issues will tank an audience. Despite a pandemic about to enter its third year.
All of this leads me, a ratings expert, to conclude the crown has never been more affixed to the NFL's head.