American football’s NFL achieved its highest average viewership since 1988 for the divisional round of its playoffs last weekend, as it nears its showpiece Super Bowl event.

This year's second round of NFL playoffs had an average audience of 40.0 million viewers on TV and digital, spread across the four matches – Houston Texans versus Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers taking on San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers against Detroit Lions, and Kansas City Chiefs versus Buffalo Bills.

This figure is up 7% compared to 2023, and up 5% versus the previous record in the 2021-22 season, with the total viewership sitting at 126.7 million viewers.

US network Fox Sports’ coverage of the match between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers averaged 37.5 million viewers, the biggest Saturday television audience since the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics on CBS, with the previous high being the 36.9 million viewership for the same matchup in the Divisional Round in 2022.

The 49ers’ 24-21 comeback win peaked at 40.9 million viewers, a 31% increase when compared to the match between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles in the same Saturday night window last year.

Meanwhile, CBS’ primetime match between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills averaged 50.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched Divisional or Wild Card game on record.

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By GlobalData