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Led by Chiefs-Bills thriller, NFL divisional round averages record 40 million viewers

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) reacts after defeating the Buffalo Bills in an NFL AFC division playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Last weekend's four NFL divisional round playoff games averaged 40.0 million viewers on television and digital platforms, the highest on record dating back to 1988.

The viewer average is a 7% increase over last year and a 5% jump from two years ago.

Sunday night's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills on CBS averaged a divisional round record 50.39 million viewers, according to Nielsen. The previous mark was 48.52 million for the Jan. 15, 2017, game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers on Fox.

It was the most-watched program on any network since last year's Super Bowl. At one point during the fourth quarter, the Chiefs 27-24 victory was averaging 56.25 million.

Saturday night's contest between the Packers and San Francisco 49ers averaged 37.5 million, the most-watched Saturday telecast on any network since the 1994 Winter Olympics on CBS. The 49ers 24-21 comeback victory peaked at 40.9 million late in the fourth quarter.

The Detroit Lions 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon was the most-watched divisional round game on NBC since the 1993 season, averaging 40.4 million. It peaked at 49.1 million viewers as the Bucs mounted a final drive late in the fourth quarter.

The Houston Texans-Baltimore Ravens game, which kicked off the weekend Saturday afternoon, drew 31.77 million on ESPN, ABC, ESPN+, making it the most-watched ESPN game since it started doing games in 1987. The audience for the Ravens' 34-10 victory peaked at 36.2 million during the third quarter.

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