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Texans-Ravens on ABC/ESPN generates 31.8 million viewers

Divisional playoff games deliver major audiences for the networks that televise them. For the first time ever, ABC/ESPN televised a divisional-round game. And, yes, big numbers followed.

Per ESPN, the game generated 31.8 million viewers on average.

The emailed version of the release originally didn't mention that the game was televised both by ESPN and ABC, touting it as ESPN's most-watched game ever. (The online version of the release makes the distinction.) Obviously, the decision to simulcast all Monday night games on ABC (thanks to the strikes that stopped production of new shows for ABC) supercharged the Monday night numbers this year. It also makes it very hard for ESPN and ABC to retreat to non-simulcasts in 2024, because that will result in significant drops when comparing a given week from 2024 to the same week in 2023.

On that point, the audience for Texans-Ravens was down from last year's 32.3 million that watched Jaguars-Chiefs in the same time slot. But the final Nielsen numbers could push Texans-Ravens on ABC and ESPN past last year's equivalent game televised on NBC.

Saturday night's Packers-49ers game on Fox averaged 37.5 million viewers, putting it on track to being the biggest Saturday night TV audience since the 1994 Winter Olympics.