(Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new ratings information.)
Despite the odious outcome, the NFC Wild Card Game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears was a ratings success for NBC and the NFL.
The Bears hosted their first playoff game since the 2010 season at Soldier Field amid a frenzied and fun atmosphere. But the game was less fun for Bears fans – the team struggled throughout much of the afternoon against the defending Super Bowl champs as quarterback Nick Foles led the Eagles to what turned out to be a game-winning drive. The Bears produced a late fourth quarter drive of their own, but kicker Cody Parkey – who missed five field goals this season – hit the upright and doinked off the yellow bar, crushing Bears’ fans hopes and ending their season.
In all fairness, the failed field goal attempt was actually blocked (or tipped) by the Eagles’ Treyvon Hester, as he got a hand on it as the NFL acknowledged so Monday.
According to Nielsen, the game drew an overnight household rating of 22.6, the highest number for an NBC game since the peacock network returned to the football business in 2006, and the highest Wild Card game on the network since January 9, 1994 when the then-Los Angeles Raiders beat the Denver Broncos at the L.A. Coliseum 42-24, drawing a 23.3 rating. Prior to 2016 when the new league contracts took effect, NBC had not had rights any playoff games since 1998.
Overall, the game drew a whopping 35.9 million viewers – the highest for any non-Super Bowl on NBC since the 1998 AFC Championship game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs. Another 533,000 viewers streamed the game from NBCSports.com. It was the eighth most-watched Wild Card playoff game on record since 1988.
In Philadelphia, the game over WCAU drew a 44.6/66 (share) in households – up tremendously from the 37.8 rating for last year’s divisional Eagles playoff game, airing on the same station. Here in Chicago, WMAQ earned a 43.1/68, the highest-rated Bears game in the market since the 2010 NFC Championship Game and the highest-rated program overall in Chicago since the Cubs’ 2016 World Series Game 7 victory. Both WCAU and WMAQ are owned by NBC.
New Orleans’ WDSU was the top neutral market a 34.5/51; Milwaukee’s WTMJ (in the heart of Packers country, who no doubt were rooting for the Eagles) came in fourth with a 32/49.
Overall, Wild Card Weekend was a success for the NFL, with overnight ratings up across all four games combined compared to 2018.
Remember, these are overnight numbers; finals are likely to be released Tuesday and demographic information including total viewership is not yet available.
Following the game was the Golden Globe Awards, marking the first time the show followed an NFL telecast. The program tumbled from its lead-in in the overnights (12.7), down from the 27.6 household rating peak. In the adults 18-49 demo however (the key demo for entertainment programming), the show earned a 5.2 preliminary rating – up from 5.0 in 2018 without a football lead-in. The program drew an estimated 18.6 million viewers, although the football game likely drew more. The Golden Globes aired live across all time zones.
Of note in the Golden Globes, Netflix and FX Networks dominated with three wins each; Netflix won Best TV Comedy with The Kominsky Method; while FX won Best Limited Series for The Assassination of Gianna Versace: American Crime Story and Best TV Drama for The Americans. In film, Bohemian Rhapsody won Best Picture; Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse won Best Animated Film.
Minority women also scored wins at the awards with Regina King nabbing a Best Actress in A Supporting Role trophy (in movies) for If Beale Street Could Talk and former Grey’s Anatomy star Sandra Oh (who was also co-host of the awards show) winning Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series for BBC America’s Killing Eve.