First time in 20 seasons consecutive primetime games post 26.5 million viewers
Last weekend's thrilling NBC "Sunday Night Football" contest, in which Tom Brady led the New England Patriots back from a 24-0 deficit to defeat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, 34-31, in overtime, was the most-watched primetime show of the week, averaging 26.5 million viewers and drawing 28.1 million viewers for the telecast's final 26 minutes from midnight-12:26 a.m. ET, according to official live plus same day national data released today by The Nielsen Company.
Coupled with last week's 26.9 million viewers for Kansas City-Denver, NBC's back-to-back "SNF" contests are the first consecutive primetime games in 20 seasons to post at least 26.5 million average viewers (not including "NFL Kickoff" games).
The last time back-to-back primetime games reached such viewership marks was in 1994 for a pair of star-studded contests. On Dec. 19, 1994, the defending-champion Dallas Cowboys with future Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin defeated the New Orleans Saints, 24-16, as 27.6 million watched on ABC. The following week, on Dec. 26, the 13-2 San Francisco 49ers with future Canton enshrinees Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders lost 21-14 to Cris Carter, John Randle and the Minnesota Vikings as 32.0 million tuned in. The 49ers went on to win Super Bowl XXIX.
Sunday's "Manning-Brady XIV" matchup is the fifth NBC NFL telecast this season to average at least 25 million viewers - the most in a season since the "SNF" package debuted on NBC in 2006 and up from two telecasts averaging 25 million viewers in all of '12. The 14th matchup between the future Hall of Fame quarterbacks is also the sixth-most watched Sunday night game in the network's eight-year "SNF" history.
"SNF's" 26.5 million average viewers for the biggest comeback victory in Patriots' team history topped the night's No. 2 entertainment show by 102 percent (13.1 million for American Music Awards on ABC) and is a 27 percent increase over last season's week 12 "SNF" game (20.9 million viewers for Green Bay-New York Giants).
The Patriots' victory - highlighted by Brady's 344 passing yards and three touchdowns - on "Sunday Night Football" (8:34-12:26 a.m. ET) also posted the week's highest primetime rating (15.6/25) and a 9.8 rating in the Adult 18-49 demographic, based on live plus same day Nielsen data.
NBC NFL games are averaging a 13.2 HH rating and 22.5 million viewers per telecast - the network's best 12-week start since acquiring the "SNF" package in 2006. In addition, "SNF" tops primetime in Adults, Men and Women 18-34 and 18-49 demos and Adults and Men 25-54. "SNF" is also on record pace in the Women's 18-49 and 25-54 demos.
Broncos-Patriots delivered a record 21.3 million minutes of consumption through NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports Group's live streaming product. The 21.3 million minutes are the most for any NBC NFL regular-season game, passing this season's "NFL Kickoff" game between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos, which delivered 20.7 million minutes with the aid of a lengthy weather delay.
The game also accounted for the second-most minutes consumed among all NBC NFL games, trailing only the consumption of Super Bowl XLVI (78.6 million, Feb. 5, 2012). Fans streaming the game averaged 60.5 minutes per visit, marking the best engagement for any NBC NFL game ever, including its live stream of Super Bowl XLVI.