The first NFL playoff game presented exclusively via a streaming platform put up TV-size deliveries, as Saturday night’s Dolphins-Chiefs showdown on Peacock averaged 23 million viewers.
While streaming accounted for the lion’s share of the primetime Wild Card game’s viewership, the preliminary estimate also includes impressions served up via the NBC affiliates in Miami (WTVJ-6) and Kansas City (KSHB-41). Per Nielsen, Saturday night’s game was up 6% versus the analogous Chargers-Jaguars broadcast on NBC last year (20.6 million linear-TV viewers, plus another 1.2 streamers).
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Held in subzero conditions, the Chiefs’ 26-7 victory now stands as the fifth-coldest NFL playoff game on record. As it happens, the Peacock deliveries were in keeping with a major media shift from nearly a decade ago; when ESPN kicked off cable’s first postseason game on Jan. 3, 2015, that Cardinals-Panthers Wild Card averaged 21.7 million viewers.
The official figures for the Peacock Wild Card game, including a breakdown of the number of fans who watched one of NBC’s local TV feeds, will be available on Friday. That said, the home-market turnout should be substantial, as the game averaged a 45.1 household rating in Kansas City—where 74% of the TVs in use were tuned to KSHB—and a 14.5 in Miami (41%). All told, approximately 710,000 homes tuned in across the NBC affiliates.
The big turnout for the NFL’s first-ever paywall playoff should put to rest any further grumbling about the practice, which is likely here to stay. In a statement issued alongside the preliminary Dolphins-Chiefs ratings, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league was “thrilled with the results.”
Earlier in the afternoon, NBC’s coverage of the Texans’ blowout of the Browns averaged 29 million viewers across the flagship network and the various digital extensions.
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