Ratings for the NFL Divisional playoffs are in, and like last week's Wild Card games, some interesting trends have emerged.
The Packers-Giants game drew the highest amount of viewers EVER for a Divisional game, with 45.1 million viewers and a 25.3 rating, the highest rating since 1997 (Cowboys vs....Panthers? Yes, Panthers). The second highest amount of viewers for a game was not in fact Tim Tebow's Broncos against Tom Brady's Patriots, but the thrilling Niners-Saints game from Saturday afternoon with 35.6 million viewers. While the Broncos-Patriots game was third of the four games in total viewers, both Saturday games were the highest rated divisional games in their timeslots in history. Bringing up the rear in the playoff games was the Ravens-Texans game, with 31 million viewers.
What does all of this actually tell us, though? The fact that the heavily hyped Tebow-Brady showdown, which was a stinker of a game, finished third out of the four games in the ratings shows that fans care more about the actual on-field product as opposed to the hype behind it. A lot of fans could have tuned in at the beginning of the game, saw it begin to get out of hand, and tuned out. I know that's what I did. Meanwhile, the Saints-Niners game with its crazy finish drew in more viewers late as Twitter exploded with reactions to the multiple lead changes in the fourth quarter.
But the big story is the record-breaking ratings for the 15-1 Packers versus the Giants, who played their way into the playoffs on the final week and put on a minimally entertaining game in the Wild Card round against the Falcons. Because of the story of the Packers trying to repeat, and the size of the New York media market, more eyeballs were drawn to that game than there probably should have. So maybe there is something to the story behind the game... but only when on-field performance warrants it. While the Patriots-Broncos game was a blowout at halftime, the Packers and Giants game was tight, and the lure of the upset was alive and well the entire time. Even if it's a blowout, you don't turn off an upset. This is what happened in this game...