In terrible news for those who have thumped their chest about the NFL's comparative ratings success over the NBA, yesterday's AFC Championship Game on CBS drew only 41.11 million viewers. This is a 24 percent nosedive from last year's epic showdown between the Patriots and Chiefs and makes it the lowest-rated conference title telecast since the 2009 NFC game between the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles drew 40.64 million.
Fox didn't fare much better with San Francisco's throttling of Green Bay. The late window came in at 43.58 million, down slightly from last year but up a small amount from 2018.
What does it all mean? Well, as someone who doesn't get too worked up about any ratings, I can tell you this: not having Tom Brady and the New England Patriots involved is a big deal. We can talk until we're blue in the face about how great and fun Patrick Mahomes is, but if he doesn't have a compelling antagonist, people aren't going to drop everything and watch, even on the biggest of conference stages.
It also means that blowouts are no bueno. The Packers choosing not to show up in the first half meant a lot of people didn't stay for the signs of life in the second.
There will be much discussion about if the Super Bowl eclipses the 100 million mark. You can enjoy it and keep an eye on it. Just know that the NFL, the teams, the television networks, the advertisers, the talent, and pretty much everyone will be just fine even with small dips in viewership.
Or, you know, freak out about it and come up with a laundry list of reasons why the sky is falling. Your choice, really.