One for the Record Books: Texans at Ravens Delivers 32.4 Million Viewers, Becoming ESPN’s Most-Watched NFL Game Ever

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One for the Record Books: Texans at Ravens Delivers 32.4 Million Viewers, Becoming ESPN’s Most-Watched NFL Game Ever

Please Note: The release below was posted on Tuesday, January 23,, and indicates Nielsen’s final audience number. – and is now the release of record for the Divisional Game This audience represents a 600k increase from Nielsen’s Fast Nationals number on Monday, January 22. The original release can be found here: https://bit.ly/3HqPVHw

  • Audience Surpasses Every NFL Game – Regular Season or Playoffs – on ESPN Dating Back to 1987
  • ESPN has Aired Its Five Most-Watched NFL Games Ever in Previous 13 Months
  • Record-Breaking Viewership Caps Landmark Year for ESPN and Monday Night Football

ESPN’s NFL Divisional Playoff presentation was a record-shattering showdown for ESPN, marking consecutive years in which the final game of the season was its most-watched NFL game ever, playoffs or regular season, dating back to 1987 when ESPN acquired NFL rights. The record viewership joins Monday Night Football in cementing a landmark season for the NFL on ESPN.

With an audience of 32.4 million, Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (ESPN, ABC, ESPN+, and ESPN Deportes on Saturday, Jan. 20) surpasses the 2023 Super Wild Card Monday night game featuring the Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (January 16, 2023) for ESPN’s top spot.

The Texans-Ravens audience peaked at nearly 37 million viewers late in the game (7 – 7:15 p.m. ET).

ESPN’s Five Most-Watched NFL Games Ever Have Aired Previous 13 Months; Multiple Monday Night Football Games Amongst the Records
With the addition of this season’s ESPN’s Super Wild Card Monday night game (Eagles at Buccaneers), ESPN’s three most-recent playoff games are also its three most-watched NFL games ever.

Inclusive of all NFL games, regular season and playoffs, ESPN has aired its five most-watched NFL games ever in the past 13 months (January 2023 to January 2024) and six of the seven highest-viewed games, buoyed by a record-setting 2023 Monday Night Football season.

 

ESPN’s Most-Watched NFL Games Ever, Dating Back to 1987

Rank NFL Season Date Game Viewership Monday Night Football or Playoff Game
1 2023-24 January 20, 2024 Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens 32,305,000 Playoff
2 2022-23 January 16, 2023 Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31,201,000 Playoff
3 2023-24 January 15, 2024 Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29,132,000 Playoff
4 2023-24 November 20, 2023 Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs 28,962,000 Monday Night Football
5 2023-24 December 25, 2023 Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers 27,616,000 Monday Night Football
6 2019-20 January 4, 2020 Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans 26,972,000 Playoff
7 2023-24 December 30, 2023 Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys 26,061,000 Monday Night Football

All ESPN produced Games. All games aired on, at least, ESPN and ABC, except Christmas Day game which was only on ABC. Viewership above does not include ESPN Deportes for historical purposes

The streak of most-watched games coincides with the implementation of the newest rights agreements between ESPN and the NFL, as well as Joe Buck and Troy Aikman joining Monday Night Football.

Texans-Ravens is Disney’s Most-Watched NFL Game Outside of Super Bowls
The Texans-Ravens’ 32.4 million viewers also marks Disney’s most-watched NFL game, excluding Super Bowls. The audience of 32,395,000 viewers bested all 24 Disney NFL Playoff games in the previous 28 years, including 14 exclusively on ABC (1996-2005), nine available on ABC and ESPN (2016-23) and one solely on ESPN (2015).  The game also surpassed every regular season game exclusively on ABC since 1996.

Please note: Disney’s ownership of ABC/ESPN began February 1996
Disney has aired Super Bowl XXXIV, Super Bowl XXXVI, and Super Bowl XL.

 

Texans-Ravens Best All Early Saturday Divisional Playoff Games Dating Back to 2015
Looking across all networks, the 32.4 million viewers surpasses every Divisional Saturday early game window (4:30 p.m.) dating back to 2015, including Jaguars-Chiefs last season, per Nielsen.

Postseason NFL Countdown Leads into Game, Approaching Five Million Viewers
Postseason NFL Countdown aired on ABC and ESPN, leading into the game (2-4:15 p.m.). On ABC, the show averaged 3.3 million viewers and ESPN an additional 1.4 million viewers. Together, the show averaged 4.7 million viewers.

Playoff Success Cements Record Year for ESPN
ESPN’s record-breaking playoff viewership follows a history-making fall for Monday Night Football viewership. The 2023 Monday Night Football season is the franchise’s most watched since the 2000 NFL season, with viewership surpassing each of the previous 18 seasons in the ESPN era (2006 – present) and the five seasons leading into that era when MNF aired singularly on ABC. The franchise was up 29% year-over-year.

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Media Contacts:
Derek Volner: [email protected]
Lily Blum: [email protected]

Derek Volner

I currently lead ESPN’s NFL Communications, including Monday Night Football, NFL Draft and studio programming. Previously, I did the same for ESPN’s vast college football portfolio. I have been with ESPN since 2013.
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