Ratings for the NFL Wild-Card Games Are Bad, Very Bad

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Like the rest of the NFL’s 2020 season, the Wild Card games are suffering in the ratings, according to reports.

According to Sports Media Watch, “Bears-Saints led the NFL’s expanded six-game Wild Card weekend slate with a Nielsen-estimated 16.4 rating and 30.65 million viewers across CBS, CBS All-Access and Nickelodeon — down 15% in ratings and 13% in viewership from the same window last year (Seahawks-Eagles: 19.2, 35.12M) and down 17% and 15% respectively from 2019 (Eagles-Bears: 19.7, 35.89M). Those games aired on NBC.”

The game did deliver the largest TV audience since the last Super Bowl, but still trailed CBS’s Titans-Patriots Wild-Card game from last year, the site noted. Furthermore, “It was the least-watched Wild Card game in the late Sunday afternoon window since 2008 (Titans-Chargers: 26.63M) and the lowest-rated since at least 1998,” SMW wrote.

The Colts-Bills game earned 11.6 and 20.08 million but was the least-watched Wild Card game on any network since ABC’s Colts-Jets game in 2003 (19.66M).

ESPN also suffered a ratings collapse.

“ESPN averaged a 14.2 and 24.82 million for Ravens-Titans on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and Freeform — down 18% in both measures from Vikings-Saints on FOX last year (17.4, 29.93M) and down 8% and 2% respectively from Chargers-Ravens on CBS in 2019 (15.4, 25.38M). Compared to last year’s Wild Card game on ESPN/ABC — Bills-Texans on a Saturday afternoon — ratings fell 7% (from 15.2) and viewership 6% (from 26.34M),” the site reported.

While NBC’s Browns-Steelers averaged a 13.4 rating and 24.78 million viewers, there was no exact correlating game lat year. But NBC’s single Wild-Card game last year won a 19.2 rating and 35.12 million viewers.

NBC’s Tampa Bay-Washington game also suffered.

SMW added, “NBC also averaged an 11.5 and 21.37 million for Tampa Bay-Washington on Saturday night, down a third in ratings and 32% in viewership from last year on CBS (Titans-Patriots: 17.1, 31.42M), down 28% and 27% respectively from 2019 on FOX (Seahawks-Cowboys: 15.9, 29.38M) and the lowest rated Wild Card game on any network since at least 1998.”

The site also noted that Fox did the best. “FOX took top honors on Saturday with a 12.7 (-16%) and 23.96 million (-9%) for Rams-Seahawks, the network’s lowest-rated Wild Card game since at least 1998 and least-watched since 2008 (Giants-Buccaneers: 22.97M),” SMW reported.

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