For all the talk about how people hate the New England Patriots, they’re still good for NFL business. And for all the talk about ratings, the NFL business is still doing better than anything else in its realm.
The ratings for the AFC championship game were, predictably, monstrous. The Patriots’ dramatic win over the Jacksonville Jaguars drew a 27.3 overnight household rating and a 50 share, according to CBS (via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe). That was the highest rated game of this NFL season. It’s the highest rated television program since … last year’s Super Bowl, that featured the Patriots coming back to beat the Atlanta Falcons. It was bigger than the NBA Finals. Bigger than the World Series. Bigger than the College Football Playoff or “Game of Thrones” or “Big Bang Theory” or anything else. Remember, as always, the stories about NFL ratings being down are quite overblown. You might see people spinning the AFC title game viewership as ratings being down (last year the AFC title game got a 27.6), but when you see that just remember that no other show since last Feb. 5 in any category did better. That seems to be an important part of the story. People will point to the NFC title game ratings, which drew 42.3 million viewers (h/t Richard Deitsch at SI.com) after drawing 46.3 million last season, and might not note that the game was a blowout early on and it’s still 42.3 million viewers.
And no matter what everyone says about being fatigued on the Patriots, people still tune in. Although the game did very well in Jacksonville (a whopping 70 share in that market, according to NFL writer Vito Stellino), the game didn’t do the highest ratings on television in 50 weeks because of the Jaguars. While some people won’t like that the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years, having the Patriots involved will be better for ratings than the Jaguars would have been.
Super Bowl LII ratings should do fine. The Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles are two huge-market, traditional teams. There are interesting storylines on both sides. You’ll hear a lot in the next two weeks about how nobody wants to watch the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Presumably, the ratings won’t reflect that.
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More NFL coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Dan Wetzel: Jaguars explain Brady’s comeback
• Super Bowl: The ghost of Foles vs. the legend of Brady
• 49ers QB Garoppolo cashes in on Patriots’ AFC title
• Meet America’s sports power couple: The Ertz’s