The opening game of the NFL season drew the largest audience for a telecast of a sporting event since Super Bowl LIII in February, according to fast national figures released Friday by Nielsen.
NBC’s coverage of the Green Bay Packers 10-3 victory over the Chicago Bears Thursday averaged 22 million viewers, the most for the NFL Kickoff game since 2016 when the Denver Broncos 21-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers averaged 25.19 million viewers.
Viewership was up 15.6% from the 19.028 million average for the 2018 game, an 18-12 victory by the Philadelphia Eagles over the Atlanta Falcons, whose start was delayed 45 minutes by lightning.
The NFL Kickoff game has been played annually since 2002 and has been carried on broadcast television since 2003. Its record audience was in 2010 when the New Orleans Saints 14-9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings averaged 27.49 million viewers.
Thursday marked the first time since 2002 the NFL Kickoff game the game did not include the defending Super Bowl champion. Instead, the game was a renewal of the NFL’s most-played matchup in connection with the celebration of the league’s 100th season.
Viewership for most forms of programming has declined in recent years mainly because of increased viewership of streamed programming.
An average of 627,000 viewers watched the livestream of Thursday’s game on the NBC Sports and NFL Digital platforms, the most for a game in the “Sunday Night Football” package and a 10% increase from the 570,000-average for last year’s NFL Kickoff game.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: