Peacock39s Wild Card broadcast drew 23 million viewers and became

Peacock's Wild Card broadcast drew 23 million viewers and became the most-streamed NFL game of all time – The Athletic

Amid all the anger and frustration over NBC airing Saturday night's wild card fight exclusively on its Peacock streaming service, an average of 23 million viewers tuned in to watch the frozen matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins It was the most streamed game in NFL history.

The most-streamed game before Saturday came in late November, when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Seattle Seahawks on “Thursday Night Football” before an average of 15.26 million viewers on Prime Video.

Saturday's viewership increase was due to fans outside of Kansas City and Miami having to pay a subscription fee to watch Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs beat Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins. Kansas City's 26-7 victory was the first playoff game in league history to air exclusively on a streaming network.

Peacock's “Premium” subscription costs $5.99 per month and includes live sports. Last week the service reportedly had 30 million subscribers, as Comcast previously said the number of subscriptions was up 75 percent compared to last year.

Peacock previously had an exclusive broadcast of a regular season game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills on December 23rd. This game was watched by an average of 7.3 million viewers and peaked at 8.4 million in the fourth quarter. For comparison, according to The Athletic's Richard Deitsch, Amazon Prime's “Thursday Night Football” averaged 11.86 million viewers in 2022, up 24 percent from 2021 (9.58 million).

A streaming success

NBC Sports president Rick Cordella, who also oversees sports at Peacock, told The Athletic last week that he would judge the Chiefs-Dolphins game first based on the quality of production and then on whether technology distribution be smooth and clear. Next goals included metrics like the number of subscribers the game generated, how many new subscribers they had, whether they met their internal traffic goals, and how the advertising partners felt afterward.

Viewership goals were not driven externally by Peacock executives, as the $110 million they paid the NFL for the game was ultimately used to purchase subscriptions. There is no doubt that parent company Comcast just wanted to avoid a viewership catastrophe and achieved the opposite. The average viewership of 23 million beats last year's lowest-watched playoff game (Chargers-Jaguars, which averaged 20.61 million viewers on NBC) by a few million viewers.

Both the league and Peacock will be overjoyed with this viewership. What does that mean? That we are almost certain that an exclusive, live NFL playoff game will be repeated next year. — Richard Deitsch, senior sports media writer

Required reading

(Photo: Denny Medley / USA Today)