The Sunday Night Football opener featuring the Cowboys vs. Jets on NBC was the most-watched Sunday or Monday* primetime game in 14 years and is the most-watched Sunday Night Football game ever, according to official national data released today by The Nielsen Company.
Additionally, the Thursday and Sunday night games rank as the No. 1 and No. 2 primetime programs of the week among viewers, households and all key demographics.
The Jets 27-24 victory over the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football was seen by an average of 25.8 million viewers (8:33-11:44 p.m. ET), the most for any Sunday or Monday primetime game since Dec. 15, 1997 (Broncos-49ers, 27.0 million on ABC) and the most ever for Sunday Night Football since the NFL’s premier primetime package moved to NBC in 2006. The viewership was up two percent over last year’s SNF season opener (Cowboys-Redskins, 25.3 million) and up 22 percent over the 2009 SNF season opener (Bears-Packers, 21.1 million). See full list of top SNF viewership below.
In the key advertiser demographic of Adults 18-49, Sunday Night’s game registered a 10.7 rating, the best ever for a Sunday Night Football game, the best for a primetime NFL regular season game since Dec. 15, 1997 (Broncos-49ers, 11.6 on ABC), and 11 percent higher than last year’s SNF opener.
*The only primetime NFL broadcasts to draw more viewers than last night’s game dating back to 1997 were Thursday’s NFL Kickoff game between the Saints and Packers (27.2 million) and last year’s NFL Kickoff between the Vikings and Saints (27.5 million).
BACK TO FOOTBALL: NBC’s two-game average viewership of 26.5 million for both Thursday and Sunday night is the best since the NFL created the Thursday/Sunday primetime weekend in 2002. It is up one percent from last year’s opening weekend (26.3 million) and up 26 percent vs. the 2009 opening weekend (21.0 million)
Thursday’s Saints-Packers (27.2 million) and Sunday’s Cowboys-Jets (25.8 million) rank as the No. 2 and No. 3 most-watched NBC regular-season primetime NFL broadcasts ever, only behind last year’s NFL Kickoff.
MOST WATCHED “SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL” GAMES:
1. 25.8 million, Cowboys-Jets, 9/11/11 (Last Night’s Game)
2. 25.73 million, Eagles-Cowboys, 12/12/10 (Most Watched SNF game ever)
3. 25.68 million, Vikings-Packers, 10/24/10, (Favre Return to Lambeau II)
4. 25.3 million, Cowboys-Redskins, 9/12/10 (2010 SNF: Week 1)
5. 24.8 million, Giants-Cowboys, 9/20/09 (Dallas Cowboys Stadium Debut)
6. 24.2 million, Packers-Patriots, 12/19/10 (2010 SNF Week 15)
7. 23.7 million, Vikings-Eagles, 12/28/10 (2010 SNF Week 16 – Tuesday Game)
8. 23.2 million, Giants-Eagles, 11/21/10 (2010 SNF: Week 11)
T9. 23.1 million Giants-Colts, 09/19/10 (“Manning Bowl II”)
T9. 23.1 million, Giants-Cowboys, 12/14/08 (2008 SNF: Week 15)
*9/9/10, Vikings-Saints, 27.5 million (2010 Thursday Night Opener)
*9/8/11, Saints-Packers, 27.2 million (2011 Thursday Night Opener)
WEEK ONE “SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL” GAMES:
1. 9/11/11, Cowboys-Jets, 25.8 million
2. 9/12/10, Cowboys-Redskins, 25.3 million
3. 9/10/06, Colts-Giants, 22.6 million (“Manning Bowl I”)
4. 9/13/09, Bears-Packers, 21.1 million
5. 9/7/08, Bears-Colts, 18.4 million
6. 9/9/07, Giants-Cowboys, 18.2 million
The 15.3/25 rating for the Cowboys-Jets is up two percent over last year’s SNF season opener (Cowboys-Redskins, 15.0/25) and up 21 percent over the 2009 SNF season opener (Bears-Packers, 12.6/21). It is the second highest-rated SNF game ever only trailing the Vikings-Packers Week 7 game last year that saw Brett Favre’s second return to Lambeau Field (15.4/25).
The two-game average rating of 15.7/25 ties last year’s first two games as the highest first two-game rating since the inception of the Thursday/Sunday primetime weekend in 2002.
The rating peaked at a 16.4/31 from 11:30-11:44 p.m. ET.
FOOTBALL NIGHT UP BIG: The critically acclaimed Football Night in America drew 10.6 million viewers and a household rating of 6.4/11 (7:30-8:15 p.m. ET) up 15 percent and 19 percent, respectively, from last year’s opening Sunday night. The Adult 18-49 demo was a 4.3, up 26 percent from last year’s Week 1.
SNF DOMINATED PRIMETIME: Thursday’s Saints-Packers game (27.2 million) and Sunday Night’s Cowboys-Jets game (25.8 million) rank as the No. 1 and No. 2 primetime programs of the week among viewers, households and all key demographics.
NBC won Sunday night by all key ratings measures. Among viewers NBC’s margin of victory was 122 percent, or 11.9 million persons in total viewers over the second place network (21.7 million vs. 9.8 million for Fox, which was boosted by an NFL overrun). In adults 18-49, NBC’s margin of victory over the No. 2 network was 117 percent (8.9 vs. 4.1 for Fox).
For the primetime night (from 7:30-11 p.m. ET), NBC averaged 21.7 million viewers and an 8.9/23 in Adults 18-49, up 4 percent in total viewers and 14 percent in Adults 18-49 rating versus the same night last year.
This was the highest rated Sunday primetime performance for any network in both viewers and Adults 18-49 since ABC’s coverage of the Academy Awards on February 27.
SNF 2 FOR 2: With 27.2 million viewers on Thursday night and 25.8 million viewers, Sunday Night Football starts the season two for two versus its competition. Last season, “Sunday Night Football” was the No. 1 show all 18 nights (100 percent) vs. its competition (16 Sundays, one Tuesday and one Thursday). In 2009, SNF was the most-watched Sunday night primetime broadcast in a then-record 15 of 16 (94 percent) weeks. In 2008, SNF won 13 of 16 (81 percent) Sunday nights. In 2007, SNF won 11 of 16 (69 percent) and, in 2006, SNF won nine of 16 (56 percent).
SNF EXTRA INCREASES VIDEO STARTS AND ENGAGEMENT TIME: SNF Extra live streaming on NBCSports.com saw significant increases in video starts and engagement time for both the Thursday night NFL Kickoff and the Sunday Night Football opening game.
NFL Kickoff – Saints at Packers: 6.5 million minutes of video watched, up 76 percent from the last year’s NFL Kickoff (3.7 million for Vikings-Saints) and 365k video starts, up 29 percent (283k).
Cowboys-Jets: 6.3 million minutes of video watched, up 44 percent from last year’s SNF opener (4.3 million for Cowboys-Redskins), and 310k video starts, up nine percent from last year (286k).
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL ON FACEBOOK GROWS: According to SocialGuide.com’s The Social 100, both the NFL Kickoff game and the opening Sunday Night Football game was the No. 1 primetime shows in the social sphere for those nights. From September 7-13 SNF on Facebook Grew 456 percent in posts, 459 percent in comments.
TOP 10 METERED MARKETS FOR COWBOYS-JETS:
1. Dallas 38.8/58
2. San Antonio 28.1/40
3. Austin 26.2/41
4. New Orleans 24.7/33
5. Las Vegas 23.3/36
6. Albuquerque 22.5/35
7. Oklahoma City 22.1/32
8. Richmond 20.7/31
9. Houston 20.5/31
10. Norfolk 19.9/29
*The New York market ranked No. 11 with a 19.7/30 overnight rating,