NFL's First Playoff Game Behind Paywall Sets a Record

Match on Peacock between Chiefs and Dolphins drew an average 23M viewers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2024 10:40 AM CST
NFL's First Playoff Game Behind Paywall Sets a Record
A bundled-up Kansas City Chiefs fan had dueling Chiefs/Dolphins puppets during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff game against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri.   (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Whether fans tuned in Saturday night to the Chiefs-Dolphins AFC playoff match on Peacock to watch Taylor Swift having fun in the stands or because they were actually invested in the game, those viewers helped make it the most-streamed live event ever, reports the AP. Nielsen stats show the game averaged 23 million viewers on Peacock, NFL+, and local NBC affiliates, with a game total of 27.6 million. Fans had to fork over $5.99 to watch, the NFL's first playoff competition behind a paywall.

Saturday also turned out to be Peacock's biggest day ever, per Yahoo Sports. "A milestone moment in media and sports history," NBC play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico proclaimed. One advantage of streaming the game from the comfort of one's sofa or local watering hole: It was so cold at Missouri's Arrowhead Stadium that the helmet of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes shattered. Despite that oddity, the Chiefs won the game, 26-7.

Fans weren't happy with the fact that they had to pay for Peacock access to the game, but thanks to the streaming numbers, the Chiefs-Dolphins meetup may not be the last playoff match to end up behind a paywall: NFL media exec Hans Schroeder tells the AP that the league will look at viewership numbers in deciding whether to exclusively stream wild-card games in the future. One other game actually saw more viewers, though they didn't have to pay extra to stream it: An average of 29 million viewers tuned in to NBC on Saturday to watch the Cleveland Browns get creamed 45-14 by the Houston Texans. (More NFL stories.)

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