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NBC Posts Biggest ‘Sunday Night Football’ Opener Since 2015

  • Network’s audience for Cowboys-Bucs up 35% from last year.
  • Cowboys played in five of the Top 10 most-watched Games in 2021.
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September 21, 2023 | Podcast
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Cris Collinsworth sounded like he just fell off his sick bed. The Dallas Cowboys only generated three points. But that doesn’t matter when the Cowboys, the NFL’s biggest TV attraction, are facing the ageless Tom Brady.

NBC Sports says its coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 19-3 win over Dak Prescott’s Cowboys on “Sunday Night Football” generated a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 25.1 million viewers across linear and digital platforms. 

That was up 35% from last season’s comparable Chicago Bears vs. Los Angeles Rams. And NBC’s biggest audience for a Sunday Night opener since 2015 when the New York Giants and, of course, the Cowboys drew an average 26.9 million viewers.

The combination of America’s Team and the 45-year-old Brady helped bring order to the NFL TV universe. 

With viewers flocking to news coverage about the death of Queen Elizabeth II, NBC’s audience for Thursday’s Opening Kickoff game dropped 19% to 21 million-plus viewers. 

But put the two telecasts together, and NBC’s combined viewership averaged 23.4 million viewers. That was the network’s largest number since 2016. 

Excluding the Super Bowl, NBC’s Season Opener Thursday night was the most-streamed on record, clocking an Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 1.74 million across Peacock, NBC Sports Digital and NFL Digital platforms. 

Through two games, NBC is averaging an AMA of 1.7 million, up 34% from the same period last year.

The Cowboys played in five of the Top 10 most-watched NFL games during the 2021 regular season, including the most-watched telecast vs. the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving, which averaged a whopping 40.8 million viewers.

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