Sunday’s Kansas City Chiefs-Buffalo Bills game on CBS was the most-watched NFL divisional playoff game on any network in five years, drawing a total audience delivery (TAD) of 43 million viewers, according to final time-zone adjusted data.
The Chiefs’ dramatic overtime win over the Bills, airing from 6:41-10:02 p.m. ET, scored the largest audience for an NFL divisional playoff game since the Green Bay Packers-Dallas Cowboys game on Jan. 15. 2017, which brought in 49 million viewers.
CBS’ Bengals-Titans divisional playoff game on Saturday drew a smaller, but still solid, audience of 30.752 million viewers, up 13% versus last year’s comparable game. Over on Fox, the Saturday primetime NFC divisional playoff between the 49ers and the Green Bay Packers drew 36.923 million viewers, jumping 40% over the corresponding 2021 game.
NBC’s Sunday afternoon divisional playoff game, which saw the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, drew a TAD of 40 million viewers, which is up 47% from last year’s comparable NBC Sports divisional playoff game. That tally makes it the most-watched NBC Sports NFL game — exclusive Super Bowls — since the 2006 debut of “Sunday Night Football.”
NFL ratings remain on the rise this year, while overall linear TV viewership continues to decline. For reference, the Bills-Chiefs game is the most-watched TV program on any network since last year’s Super Bowl LV on CBS, and one of the only three TV programs that have topped 40 million viewers since the 2021 Super Bowl, the other two also being NFL games on CBS.
On a field of continuously declining broadcast TV ratings, it’s good to be a network playing with the NFL this year.
Sunday’s Bills-Chiefs game averaged 42.736 million viewers and was up 18% versus last year’s comparable Tampa Bay-New Orleans playoff game on Jan. 17, which scored 36.300 million viewers. The audience for the Bills-Chiefs game peaked with 51.697 million viewers, the second week in a row that CBS’ primetime NFL game has topped 50 million viewers, following last week’s San Fransisco 49ers-Dallas Cowboys showdown (50.229 million viewers).
Those big numbers are a continuation of strong season-long NFL viewership for CBS, which saw its most-watched regular season in six years and its best postseason start in a decade with an average of 35.883 million viewers for its playoff games this season, up 27% versus last year’s postseason viewership through the divisional round.
The games also offered CBS parent company ViacomCBS a streaming boost. Per CBS Sports, “For the second consecutive week, Paramount+ delivered its most-streamed non-Super Bowl NFL weekend ever and Bills-Chiefs scored as its most-streamed non-Super Bowl game of all-time. The Divisional Playoffs recorded triple-digit year-over-year growth in total streams, streaming minutes and unique viewers from last year’s Divisional games.”