The Walt Disney Company Delivers its Most-Watched NFL Playoff Game since 1999, Drawing 30.6 Million Viewers for Cowboys-Buccaneers Super Wild Card Game
· Audience Projected to Surpass 31 Million and Become Disney's Most-Watched NFL Playoff Game with Nielsen Final Viewership Reporting
· Disney's Largest NFL Audience Since Super Bowl XL in February 2006
· Cowboys-Buccaneers is Up 32% Year-Over-Year from Disney's 2021-22 Super Wild Card Game
The Walt Disney Company presented its most-watched NFL Playoff game since 1999, delivering 30.6 million viewers for the Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday, Jan. 16 (8:15 p.m. ET) based on Nielsen fast nationals (ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, and ESPN+). The viewership of 30.6 million viewers bested all 18 Disney NFL Playoff games in the previous 24 years, including 10 exclusively on ABC (2000-2005), seven available on ABC and ESPN (2016-22) and one solely on ESPN (2015). The viewership is up 32 percent from Disney's Super Wild Card game concluding the 2021-22 season (Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams), the first Monday night Super Wild Card game.
When Nielsen reports final viewership numbers on Wednesday, Jan. 18, the Cowboys-Buccaneers audience is projected to likely become Disney's most-watched NFL Playoff game ever, surpassing the Cardinals-Cowboys matchup from January 1999 (30.7 million viewers).
"This exceptional number proves once again that live sports are unequaled in amassing large audiences," said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. "The success is also a clear reflection of how ESPN, working alongside the NFL and our colleagues at Disney, can help attract fans, build anticipation, and expand our reach. Even without a dramatic ending, it was an extraordinarily memorable evening."
The Super Wild Card finale represented Disney's first playoff game with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the call. Lisa Salters was the sideline reporter, calling her ninth playoff game for Disney.
Cowboys-Buccaneers Among Disney's Most-Watched NFL Games Ever
The Cowboys-Buccaneers matchup, with an audience of 30.6 million, is also the most-watched NFL game presented by The Walt Disney Company since Super Bowl XL in February 2006. Excluding TWDC's three Super Bowls, Cowboys-Buccaneers represents the third most-watched NFL game in Disney's history. The final audience projects to be Disney's second most-watched NFL game.
Please note: Disney's ownership of ABC/ESPN began February 1996
Disney has aired Super Bowl XXXIV, Super Bowl XXXVI, and Super Bowl XL.
Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli's Audience Jumps Year-over-Year
Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli garnered an audience of 1.7 million on ESPN2 for the Cowboys-Buccaneers, up 17 percent from the show's Playoff debut last season (1.4 million viewers).
Additional Cowboys-Buccaneers Highlights
· Peak Audience: Across all networks, viewership peaked at 35.6 million viewers as the Cowboys increased their lead from 12-0 to 18-0 at the conclusion of the first half (9:15-9:30 p.m. ET)
· Top Local Markets:
Top 10 Rank Market Local Number
1 Dallas-Ft. Worth 33.6
2 San Antonio 26.2
3 Kansas City 24.3
4 Austin 24.1
5 Tampa-St. Pete 22.7
6 Philadelphia 20.2
7 Sacramento 19.4
8 Norfolk 18.8
T-9 Jacksonville 18.5
Other markets of note: Boston (16.5), ranking 21st and San Francisco (16.0), ranking 23rd.
Please note: Only 44 markets are currently available
ESPN Delivers Most-Watched NFL Season Including Playoffs
ESPN concludes its 2022-23 NFL game viewership averaging 14.8 million viewers per game (17 regular season games + Wild Card game), ESPN's most-viewed NFL season since it began airing a Wild Card game (2014-15 season).
In Week 2, which is not included in the above season-to-date viewership, Monday Night Football featured two games with staggered kickoffs (7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.). During that special presentation, which will become a staple of Monday Night Football beginning next season, Disney networks averaged 20.6 million viewers when Tennessee-Buffalo and Minnesota-Philadelphia were shown simultaneously during a two-hour period (8:30 - 10:30 p.m.). Additionally, Monday Night Football's Week 17 game (Buffalo at Cincinnati) was also not counted in the season viewership.
ESPN's Top 2022-23 NFL Season Superlatives:
· ESPN aired four of the platform's top 13 games in the ESPN Monday Night Football era this season (2006 - present).
· This season, ESPN has aired four of its top 13 most-watched games - out of more than 275 games - in the current rights era (2006 - present).
· Weeks 1 and 3 set new viewership records, delivering the best MNF audience in the ESPN era for each of those individual weeks, with audiences of 19.8 million and 19.4 million, respectively.
· Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli: Heading into the season, all 10 alternate telecasts had filled the list of ESPN's 10 most-watched alternate telecasts. Adding in the 10 episodes this season, Peyton and Eli now hold the 20 most-watched alternate offerings in ESPN's history, as all 10 of their telecasts this season added to their record-breaking ways.
· Week 8 when ESPN+ aired its most-viewed event ever when it televised Denver vs. Jacksonville from London