The US National Football League (NFL) has recorded soaring year-on-year (YoY) viewership for its pair of conference championship head-to-heads, topped by a record draw for an AFC championship game, and an even higher NFC championship game viewership.

Total viewership for the two back-to-back games, the results of which will see the San Francisco 49ers face off against the Kansas City Chiefs in the season-ending Super Bowl, was 11% higher than the equivalent matchups of the 2022 NFL season which also featured the Chiefs and the 49ers.

The reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs triumphed over the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC championship game that drew an average of 55.47 million viewers, the most for any AFC championship game since records began, and peaked at 64.02 million watchers.

The two teams’ star quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes Jr. and Lamar Jackson, drew high interest from both casual and hardcore fans alike in a matchup that also became the most-watched non-Super Bowl television program on the CBS broadcaster since the 1994 Winter Olympic games.

The NFC championship game, which saw the 49ers come from behind to defeat the Detroit Lions, drew an even larger viewership, averaging 56.32 million watchers on the Fox network, the most for an NFC championship game since 2012, which also featured a victory for the 49ers, one of the league’s most historically successful teams.

The 11% increase in championship game performance continues a strong trend for the current edition of the NFL playoffs, and an NFL season that has performed strongly in its totality

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The current NFL playoffs, the fourth edition with an expanded roster of 14 teams, as opposed to the 12-team field that had been standard pre-2020, recorded a 9% higher year-on-year viewership on 2022’s edition.

The return to the playoffs of teams from large yet underrepresented sports markets such as Detroit and Cleveland may also have helped to push viewership up.

The 2023 NFL playoffs divisional round, the post-season’s second round, achieved its highest average viewership since records began, with an average of 40 million viewers across its four matches.

Hans Schroeder, executive vice president of media distribution with the NFL, stated: “Our record-breaking viewership is driven by the incredible play on the field that only the NFL postseason can deliver and presented by the best media partners in the business.”

The NFL playoffs are broadcast across a number of the US’ top broadcasters, with Fox, CBS, NBC, ESPN, ABC, and the streaming service Peacock all holding broadcast rights for the sought-after games.

Like the AFC championship game, the Super Bowl will be broadcast in the US on CBS, and the Paramount Plus streaming service via simulcast.