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NFL conference finals see viewership declines

Both NFL conference championship telecasts took audience hits this year.

Kansas City's 35-24 win over Tennessee in the American Football Conference averaged 41.1 million viewers for CBS (US) in the 3:05 p.m. ET window on Jan. 19, according to data from Nielsen Holdings PLC. The National Football Conference matchup that followed at 6:40 p.m. ET, in which San Francisco throttled Green Bay 37-20, delivered an average audience of 42.75 million viewers on FOX (US).

Adding in viewing on FOX Deportes (US) and streaming platforms, FOX Sports reported the NFC championship game — a blowout in which San Francisco led 27-0 at halftime and 34-7 entering the fourth quarter — averaged 43.6 million viewers.

The performances represented declines from the 2019 conference championship telecasts. The NFC matchup of New Orleans-Los Angeles Rams scored almost 44.1 million viewers in the afternoon window on FOX. Meanwhile, New England's 37-31 overtime win over Kansas City averaged 53.9 million on CBS in the later time slot, ranking as the second-most-watched AFC title game since 1977.

Under their current NFL rights deals, CBS and FOX alternate their respective annual presentations of the AFC and NFC championship games in the afternoon and prime-time windows.

On Feb. 2, FOX will air the Chiefs-49ers matchup in Super Bowl LIV from Miami, with parent Fox Corp. poised to hit advertising pay dirt. The NFL title game sold out 10 weeks ahead of its kickoff, with 30-second spots commanding upward of $5 million and some garnering as much as $5.6 million per commercial unit.

FOX garnered approximately $419 million in ad sales from its coverage of Super Bowl LI. NBC (US) registered $408 million with Super Bowl LII, while CBS earned $382 million from Super Bowl LIII, according to data from Kantar Media Intelligences Inc.

Last year's Patriots-Rams Super Bowl telecast averaged 98.2 million viewers on CBS, representing the smallest audience for an NFL championship game since the New York Giants defeated the Patriots before 97.5 million viewers in 2008.

The 2019 contest reached 100.7 million watchers on a total audience delivery basis when viewing on ESPN Deportes (US) and streaming platforms were calculated.