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42.7 million people watch the Chiefs defeat the Bills

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelsey (87) achieves a victory over Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano (58) during the AFC Divisional Round playoff game on January 23, 2022 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, state of Missouri.

William Purnell | Sports wire icon | Getty Images

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen put on a show, and the National Football League benefited from the division’s most popular playoff game in five years.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ 42-36 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday was watched by an average of 42.7 million viewers, according to ViacomCBS. The network reported that the competition peaked at 51.6 million viewers. The Chiefs Bills game was one of the most memorable and dramatic playoff endings in NFL history.

After trailing the Chiefs 33–29 and with one minute left in the game, Allen had six games for 75 yards to give the Bills a 36–33 lead with 13 seconds left in the game. Mahomes responded with three plays for 45 yards, and the Chiefs tied the game with a 36 field goal. And in overtime, Mahomes threw eight plays for 75 yards and threw the game-winning touchdown to tight end Travis Kelsey to propel the Chiefs to the AFC title game.

CBS Sports telecast has been the most watched divisional postseason game on any network since 2017. That year, the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys in January to an average of 48.5 million viewers.

Sunday’s competition was also up 18% from last year’s comparable game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints. This game has an average of 36.3 million viewers. The Chiefs-Bills game also surpassed CBS Sports’ peak when it featured the San Francisco 49ers and Cowboys on January 16. The maximum number of viewers for this competition was 50.2 million people.

No. 17 Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills runs with the ball as No. 55 Frank Clark of the Kansas City Chiefs defends during the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 23, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri .

Jamie Squire | Getty Images

On Saturday, the network aired the Cincinnati Bengals’ playoff victory over the top-seeded Tennessee Titans. The game averaged 30.7 million viewers, with 38.3 million at its peak.

The NFL Fox Sports playoff game, in which the 49ers defeated the Packers 13-10, averaged 36.9 million viewers on Saturday. Fox also said the game was 40% higher than last year’s comparable contest between the Bills and Baltimore Ravens, which averaged 26.3 million viewers.

The NBC Sports competition featured the Rams’ game-winning goal against the Bucks on Sunday. The network said the game averaged 40 million viewers across all platforms, including streaming. And of that figure, 38.1 million viewers were on NBC-TV alone.

In terms of advertising, metrics company EDO estimates that companies spent a total of $178 million on ads airing during four NFL playoff games over the weekend.

EDO uses analytics that tracks the search and sales of brands and products when ads are broadcast, helping companies and networks determine the value of ads during sporting events.

EDO reported that NFL games generated an additional 13 million online searches for advertisers.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.


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