More than 121 million watched NFL games on opening weekend

LOS ANGELES – More than 121 million fans watched a broadcast of an NFL game during the league’s opening week, a 5% increase from last season.

The league and Nielsen also said on Wednesday that the average viewership for all games was 18.5 million, the best opening weekend in six years and up 3% from last year.

A record seven games in Week 1 were decided by three points or fewer, and five ended in a game-winning result, either in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime.

NBC had the two most watched games. Tampa Bay’s 19-3 win over Dallas on Sunday night averaged 24.5 million viewers, and last Thursday’s opening game, in which Buffalo beat defending Super Bowl champions the Los Angeles Rams 31-10, drew 21 .3 million at.

Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle and the Seahawks’ narrow 17-16 win over Denver drew an average of 19.8 million viewers on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. This is the most-watched Monday night game since New Orleans took on New England in 2009 (21.4 million). It’s also the fourth-largest viewership since ESPN acquired Monday Night Football in 2006.


Minnesota’s 23-7 win over Green Bay averaged 18.5 million viewers on Fox and was the most-watched late Sunday afternoon. Fox’s doubleheader numbers are up 11% over last season, with an average of 15.4 million for the six games.

CBS had the most-watched early game, with Pittsburgh’s 23-20 overtime win at Cincinnati averaging 17.5 million. CBS had seven games Sunday and its doubleheader averaged 17.0 million, the network’s third-most watched Week 1 since 1998.


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