Sports broadcaster ESPN saw nearly 32 million viewers tune in for its Saturday match-up between the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans, making it the most-watched non-championship National Football League (NFL) game ever aired on the network.
It was the second consecutive year that ESPN — jointly owned between the Walt Disney Company and Hearst Television — broke its own viewership record with a divisional playoff game, the network said in a statement on Monday.
The 31.767 million viewers who tuned in surpassed last January’s match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The network said its viewership figure was based on preliminary Nielsen data, and it expects the number to surpass 32 million when finalized data is available.
Last Saturday’s game was broadcast on ESPN and the ABC television network, and streamed live through ESPN Plus and the NFL Plus app. Viewing peaked around 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time (3:30 p.m. Pacific Time) when ESPN saw 36.2 million people tune in across platforms during the third quarter of the game.
“The streak of most-watched games coincides with the implementation of the newest rights agreements between ESPN and the NFL, as well as Joe Buck and Troy Aikman joining Monday Night Football,” a network spokesperson said in a statement.
ESPN said its viewership record does not include Super Bowl telecasts that were broadcast on ABC prior to 2005.