NFL Kickoff Game on NBC Draws 26.9 Million Viewers — Up 7% From Last Year

UPDATE: In updated national estimates from Nielsen on Friday afternoon, the NFL kickoff opener on NBC averaged 26.9 million viewers — up 7% from last year’s 25.1 million for Baltimore-Denver. This makes it the third most-watched game in the 13 years that the NFL has opened its season with a weeknight contest. (The Super Bowl champ has been playing in the game since 2004).

NBC Sports Live Extra’s live stream of the game attracted record-setting numbers, as fans consumed more than 25 million minutes, up 21% from last year (20.5 million). A total of 507,662 unique viewers streamed the game, topping the 2013 opener by 51%.


The NFL returned in a big way Thursday night, with the league’s annual kickoff special on NBC between the Green Bay Packers and defending champion Seattle Seahawks generating monster ratings and outperforming last year’s opener.

According to Nielsen’s preliminary, affiliate-based nationals, the game averaged a 9.0 rating/27 share in adults 18-49 and 23.7 million viewers overall on the net’s stations from 8:30 to 11 p.m., with these numbers expected to rise in the vicinity of 15% in the nationals once the game’s full duration and all West Coast viewing is included. In the finals, there’s a pretty good shot that it will eclipse the 10.3/31 demo result for last year’s Baltimore Ravens-Denver Broncos matchup, and it should soar past last year’s overall audience average of 25.31 million.

In Nielsen’s 56 metered markets, the Seahawks’ 36-16 victory earned a 16.8 household rating/28 share — up 4% in rating from last year’s 16.2. This is the third highest rating in the 11 years that the NFL has staged its weeknight kickoff game featuring the Super Bowl champs.

The top local scores, not surprisingly, came from Milwaukee (44.0/64) and Seattle (42.2/73). They were followed by Minneapolis (26.6/44), New Orleans (25.2/38), Sacramento (21.2/35), San Diego (20.8/37) and Denver (20.7/34).

NBC dominated primetime, and in the nationals it figures to end up with an 18-49 average that is about six times greater than runner-up CBS.

The Eye on Thursday claimed the night’s No. 1 entertainment series, as “Big Brother” held up well (2.2/6 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall); its double-eviction episode, which reduced the number of houseguests to five, was up 10% from last week.

CBS opened with repeats of “The Big Bang Theory” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 8.2 million viewers overall) and “The Millers” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall) and closed with a repeat “Elementary” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 3.6 million viewers overall). Next week marks the kickoff of the net’s new “Thursday Night Football” NFL package, featuring the Baltimore Ravens against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

ABC aired another two-hour episode of low-rated reality series “The Quest” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 1.6 million viewers overall), which matched last week’s low, and wrapped with a special repeat of “Shark Tank” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.6 million viewers overall).

Fox aired repeats of “Sleepy Hollow” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.6 million viewers overall) and “Bones” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.7 million viewers overall), and CW went with encores of “The Vampire Diaries” (0.2/1 in 18-49, 0.5 million viewers overall) and “The Originals” (0.2/1 in 18-49, 0.5 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 8.4/26; CBS, 1.5/5; Univision, 1.2/4; Telemundo, 0.6/2; Fox, 0.5/2; ABC, 0.4/1; CW, 0.2/1.

In total viewers: NBC, 22.5 million; CBS, 5.7 million; Univision, 2.9 million; Fox, 2.2 million; ABC, 1.9 million; Telemundo, 1.4 million; CW, 0.5 million.



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