NBC warmed up for its telecast of the Super Bowl by logging strong ratings for Saturday’s wild-card action in the National Football League playoffs, led by the overtime primetime contest between San Diego and Indianapolis.
Coverage of the late game, in which the Chargers topped the Colts 30-24, averaged an 18.3 household rating/30 share in the Nielsen overnights — tying with the Atlanta-Green Bay contest on ABC in 2003 as the highest rating since the NFL began airing wild-card games on Saturday night in 2002. It’s also the best for any Saturday wild-card game since the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals delivered a 20.9/38 on a Saturday afternoon for Fox.
The San Diego-Indianapolis game peaked during overtime at 11:30 p.m. ET with a 21.6 rating/37 share. Among local markets, it scored a huge 64 share in Indianapolis and a 63 in San Diego.
Earlier in the day, the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons earned a 14.3/28 in the overnights, delivering a 49 share in Atlanta and a 48 in Phoenix.
The 16.4 average overnight rating is a 3% improvement over last year’s 16.0 (Washington-Seattle and Jacksonville-Pittsburgh) and the best in the three years that NBC has carried the opening day of the NFL Playoffs.
CBS and Fox picked up the action with Sunday’s wild-card games and will air the rest of the playoff action through the conference championships. NBC will be back on Feb. 1 for coverage of the Super Bowl.