Texans-Ravens was ESPN’s most-watched NFL game ever with 31.8M viewers


In a historic turn of events, the AFC Divisional matchup between the Texans and Ravens on Saturday has secured its place as ESPN’s most-watched NFL game of all time. The network disclosed that a staggering 31.8 million fans tuned in to witness the remarkable performance by Lamar Jackson.

The magnitude of the game’s popularity reached its zenith in the third quarter, with an impressive 36.2 million viewers (6:30-6:45 p.m. ET), as reported by Nielsen.

What’s noteworthy is that ESPN has seen a surge in viewership over the past 13 months, with its five most-watched games, including multiple Monday Night Football (MNF) matchups, breaking records. In fact, the network’s three most recent playoff games have also become its top three most-watched NFL games ever.

The Texans-Ravens clash, drawing 31.8 million viewers, has etched its place as Disney’s most-watched NFL game, excluding Super Bowls. This audience figure surpasses all 24 Disney NFL Playoff games spanning the last 28 years, covering exclusive broadcasts on ABC (1996-2005), ABC and ESPN (2016-23), and sole broadcasts on ESPN (2015).

Remarkably, the game has outperformed every regular-season ABC-exclusive game since Disney’s acquisition of the channel in 1996. Looking ahead, it may even surpass all early divisional playoff games since 2015, with the exception of last season’s Jaguars-Chiefs matchup, which garnered 32.3 million viewers. ESPN could potentially exceed this figure by a mere two percent (500,000 viewers).

This record-breaking playoff viewership follows a momentous fall for MNF audiences, with the 2023 MNF season becoming the franchise’s most-watched since the 2000 NFL season. Viewership has surpassed each of the previous 18 seasons in the ESPN era (2006 – present) and the five seasons leading into that era when MNF aired exclusively on ABC. The franchise has seen a remarkable 29 percent year-over-year increase.

As the Ravens gear up to host the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game on Sunday, January 28, all signs point to continued record-breaking figures. The electrifying matchup between Lamar Jackson and two-time Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes is set to captivate audiences, building on the momentum of this extraordinary season. Jackson’s stellar performance against the Texans, with two touchdown passes, two rushing scores, a 72.7 percent passing completion rate (16 of 22), a QB rating of 93.9, and 152 passing yards, has undoubtedly fueled the anticipation for this upcoming clash of titans.

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