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Dolphins-Chiefs NFL Wild Card Game Delivers Record Audience for Peacock

The NFL delivered for NBCUniversal streamer Peacock on Saturday as the exclusive Wild Card playoff game between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs drew an average audience of about 23 million viewers.

NBCUniversal shelled out megabucks to secure the first-ever NFL playoff game to run exclusively on a streaming platform, with the exception of broadcast TV coverage on the NBC affliates in Miami and Kansas City. NBCUniversal reported Sunday that game viewership peaked at an average of 24.6 million in the game’s second quarter, from 9:15 p.m.-9:30 p.m. ET.

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The game that ended with a 26-7 Chiefs victory also had the benefit of a Taylor Swift appearance, as the superstar was on hand in frigid temperatures in Kansas City to cheer on the team of her boyfriend, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

NBCUniversal asserted Sunday that the game was “the biggest live streamed event in U.S. history” and that it “drove internet usage to a single-day U.S. record,” accounting for some 30% of internet traffic during the roughly three-hour duration of the game. More important, viewership was up 6% from last year’s comparable Wild Card playoff game, according to NBCUniversal.

NBCUniversal also reported that Peacock’s edgy new comedy series “Ted,” inspired by the 2012 film of the same name, has become the streamer’s most-watched original title since its Jan. 11 debut. The series featuring a foul-mouthed talking teddy bear was heavily promoted on the Peacock platform and in promo spots during the game.

Overall, Peacock logged its most-watched day in what NBCU described as “audience usage, engagement and time spent with a record 16.3 million concurrent devices” tuned in to the streamer. Launched in 2020, Peacock has faced an uphill climb in gaining stature in the streaming universe. NBCUniversal parent Comcast secured the exclusive streaming playoff game in a bid to generate strong nationwide sampling of the service, which offers viewers a blend of free and subscription-only content. The exclusivity of the game outside of Miami and Kansas City prompted tens of millions of downloads of the Peacock app.

“From NBC Sports and Peacock to the Comcast team, our entire company worked seamlessly to plan for this game and executed flawlessly to deliver a streaming experience with the NFL on a scale that’s never been done before. It’s a very proud moment,” Comcast chairman-CEO Brian Roberts said.

In Kansas City, the game that ranked as the fourth-coldest playoff game in NFL history yielded an astounding 45.1 household rating and 74 share on NBC affiliate KSHB-TV Kansas City. In Miami, the game drew a 14.5/41 on the NBC-owned station WTVJ-TV Miami.

The decision to put a key playoff game on a streamer was carried some risk for the NFL. For decades, the league has prized free broadcast TV distribution, even above cable TV, to ensure that games are widely accessible to fans. Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, declared victory on Sunday.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our partnership with Peacock and are thrilled with the results of the first-ever exclusively live streamed NFL playoff game,” Goodell said. “To best serve our fans, we need to ensure games are available to them as their viewing habits change and this includes digital distribution as we continue to help shape the future of the sports and entertainment industry.”

(Pictured: Taylor Swift cheers Kansas City Chiefs fans at the Jan. 13 Dolphins-Chiefs Wild Card game.)

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