The NFL’s AFC and NFC championship games made for a blockbuster Sunday of football for CBS and Fox, but viewership of the games that determine the contenders for the Super Bowl was down from 2019 levels.
CBS’ AFC championship in the 3 p.m. ET afternoon slot delivered 41.1 million viewers as the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans 35-24. The crowd peaked in the final minutes of the game at 46.8 million viewers.
More from Variety
- TV Ratings: 'The Bachelor' Ticks Up 20%, ABC Wins Monday Rose
- TV Ratings: '9-1-1: Lone Star' Starts Strong Behind NFC Championship Game
- TV Ratings: 'Last Man Standing' Leads Fox to Thursday Win
That compared to 53.9 million who turned out to watch the New England Patriots prevail over Kansas City in the 2019 conference championship, when the AFC game had the later 6:30 p.m. slot. (The time slots for the AFC and NFC championship gam rotate each year between afternoon and evening.) That turnout marked a five-year high for the AFC title game.
On Fox, the NFC’s evening battle between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers brought in 43.6 million viewers. The game that ended with a 37-20 victory for the 49ers peaked at 46.1 million viewers. The top local markets, according to Fox, were Milwaukee, where the hometown heroes grabbed a 48.2 household rating and 72 share, followed by San Francisco (42.6/76), Sacramento (39.8/67), Minneapolis (35.1/59) and Denver (31.7/54).
Last year, the NFC game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints averaged 44 million viewers in the afternoon slot.
Both of Sunday’s games nonetheless rank as TV’s most-watched telecasts since last year’s Super Bowl. Although the AFC championship took a sizable hit year-over-year, CBS noted that overall its Sunday “NFL on CBS” game showcase ended the league’s 2019-20 regular season and playoffs with its highest average viewership in three years. CBS’ Sunday pigskin package drew an average of 19.4 million viewers, up 3% from the 2018-19 season.
Final national ratings for the conference championships will be available later this week.
Best of Variety
- Oscars 2020 Predictions: Who Will Get Nominated?
- The Best Music Books of 2019 (a Lot of Them, Anyway)
- The Best TV Performances of the Decade