The NFL postseason continues to be a ratings juggernaut for every network, and this week the highlight was the Denver Broncos' narrow 23-16 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers to end the Divisional Round weekend.
According to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, the four games this weekend averaged 36.2 million viewers, with the Steelers-Broncos matchup standing above the pack with an average of 43 million.
The two Sunday games posted better overall numbers than Saturday's matchups. Carolina's 31-24 victory over Seattle boasted an average of 36.7 million viewers for Fox.
The New England Patriots' 27-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs was the lowest-rated game of the weekend with an average of 31.5 million viewers. Arizona's wild 26-20 overtime win over Green Bay featured a slightly higher average of 33.7 million.
Ratings for this year's Divisional Round were down slightly from last year, when Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported an average of 37.8 million viewers.
There are rational reasons for the slight decrease in numbers. Last season featured a marquee matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, two of the NFL's most popular and storied franchises. Peyton Manning's Broncos were upset by his former team, the Indianapolis Colts.
This year's games did feature plenty of star power, with Manning making his first start since Week 10 against the always popular Steelers, but the Chiefs-Patriots game wasn't as close as the final indicates.
Carolina jumped out to a massive 31-0 lead over Seattle in the first half before the Seahawks finally came to life, which likely helped bring back some fans who may have departed en masse early.
Regardless of the slight drop in ratings, the NFL is a monster that can't be stopped. The highest-rated scripted network show from last year's television season, per Deadline.com, was CBS' The Big Bang Theory with just over 19 million viewers.
As big as the numbers were last weekend, expect them to jump even higher this Sunday for the conference championships featuring the latest battle between Manning and Tom Brady.