57.9 million tune in to watch Saints win over Vikings

Brett Favre may not have won the game, but he’s now the biggest TV star since Jerry Seinfeld.

The Fox football broadcast drew 57.9 million viewers, which makes it the most-watched program on all of television since “Seinfeld’s” exit attracted an audience of 76.3 million viewers.

The other networks didn’t put up much of a fight Sunday night. ABC aired a two-hour “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (2.5 rating/5 share, 7.8 million viewers in the 18-49 demo), good enough for second place. Alphabet, which came in second behind Fox, also telecast “America’s Funniest Home Viewers” (1.5/4, 5.8m) at 7 p.m. and a repeat of “Desperate Housewives” (1.3/3, 4.1m) at 10.

Fox’s Sunday coverage of the NFC championship game — in which Favre’s Minnesota Vikings lost in overtime to the New Orleans Saints — scored the most viewers of any telecast (except Super Bowls) since the 1998 “Seinfeld” finale.

The game from the Big Easy was also the second most-watched conference championship matchup in 30 years. The last time that many people tuned in was 1982, for a game between the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers — in which Dwight Clark made “The Catch” and put the 49ers into the Super Bowl. That matchup drew 68.7 million,

Sunday’s Vikings-Saints thriller earned a 30.6 household rating/45 share and was the most-watched program in the history of Fox — again, excluding Super Bowls and Super Bowl postgame shows — with a rating 40% higher than last year’s Arizona-Philadelphia NFC title game.

In New Orleans, numbers spiked to 67.4/83 at 10:15 ET — the highest local rating ever for an NFL postseason game — as Garrett Hartley kicked the game-winning field goal to send the Saints to their first Super Bowl. In Minneapolis, game earned a 58.7/80.

Overall, the NFL playoffs were a record-breaker on Fox, with the net averaging 40.2 million viewers over four games. Previous record was 37.3 million set in 1995.

CBS’ Jets-Colts game was no slouch, either. Contest earned an overnight rating of 28.4/50, the highest for an AFC championship game in 16 years, up 19% from last year’s Pittsburgh-Baltimore matchup.

CBS aired a night of repeats, including a Don Hewitt retrospective on “60 Minutes” (1.3/3, 6.9m). Rest of the evening was filled by procedurals: “CSI: NY” (1.0/2, 5.4m), “Cold Case” (1.3/3, 6m) and “CSI: Miami” (1.7/4, 7.1m).

Peacock broadcast a two-hour “Dateline” (0.7/2, 3.9m) and the U.S. Figure Skating Championships (0.6/1, 3.5m).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 19.0/43; ABC, 1.9/4; CBS, 1.3/3; Univision, 0.9/2; NBC, 0.6/1.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more