NFL Saturday thriller a ratings monster

Ravens-Broncos playoff game on CBS tops 35 million

Saturday’s epic double-overtime NFL playoff contest on CBS between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos drew a whopping 35.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen, and the league again drew big numbers overall for the second round of its postseason.

The Ravens’ 38-35 victory over the heavily-favored Broncos, in which Baltimore rallied in the final minute of regulation to force a tie, drew the largest Saturday audience for an NFL Divisional Playoff game in at least 26 years (since records were first kept in 1987).

The most-watched NFL playoff game of the weekend was the 37.7 million average audience for the game between the Houston Texans and New England Patriots on CBS — the late-afternoon Sunday window is typically the week’s highest-rated. Earlier in the day, the NFC nail-biter between the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons drew 32.1 million on Fox.

Saturday’s primetime game on Fox, between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, averaged 30.9 million.

The four games over the weekend averaged 34 million viewers, marking the fourth consecutive year in which the country’s most popular sport has drawn at least 34 million. Last year rated higher overall, boosted by a big Sunday afternoon game on Fox between Green Bay and the New York Giants (45.12 million) and a Saturday evening game on CBS between the Patriots and the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos (34.16 million).

Action continues with the NFL’s conference championships this Sunday, with the 49ers taking on the Falcons at 3 p.m. ET on Fox and the Ravens battling the Patriots at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

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