NFL divisional playoff ratings take a hit, but there are some catches

NFL ratings are still huge
NFL ratings are still huge

The NFL saw its ratings fall yet again last weekend for its divisional playoff round, but there are some asterisks involved in the comparisons to last year's slate of playoff games.

NFL ratings were down 16% this weekend for its divisional round match ups compared to the same weekend last year. That includes Saturday's games on NBC and CBS down 6% and 10% and Sunday's playoff games on CBS and Fox down 15% and 27%.

The declines are staggering but they are also not an apples-to-apples comparison to last year's playoff games.

Case in point: 35.6 million viewers tuned in for the Minnesota Vikings' thrilling last-second victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. But that game was competing with last year's Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys playoff game -- the most watched divisional game in history with 48.5 million viewers.

The Jacksonville Jaguars stunning upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers also saw a big drop with 31 million viewers, but that number also comes with a footnote: Last year's comparable Sunday game between the Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs, which brought in 37 million viewers, was rescheduled due to bad weather to a Sunday night, an arguably more attractive start time for viewership.

As for Saturday's games, interest around the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles afternoon game could have been hindered by a late season injury of the Eagles' star quarterback, Carson Wentz.

The New England Patriots big halftime lead over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night could have prompted viewers to tune out for the second half.

Related: NFL's TV ratings drop following a season of injuries, anthem protests

The NFL has seen declining ratings all season due to injuries, a brutal hurricane season and a deluge of streaming and television content competing for eyeballs.

Despite the league seeing its audience drop 16% overall, it still drove viewership all weekend with all four playoff games each bringing in more than 25 million viewers.


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