via press release:
52 MILLION WATCH NFC CHAMPIONSHIP SHOWDOWN
Packers/Bears Scores Most-Watched Early Window Conference Title Game Ever
Chicago Posts Higher Rating for 2011 NFC Champ Game than Super Bowl XLI
New York – Green Bay and Chicago wrote the next chapter in their storied rivalry yesterday on FOX when the Packers and Bears met in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. The much-anticipated clash scored an average audience of 51.9 million viewers and ranks as the most-watched NFC Championship Game in the early broadcast window (3:00 PM ET) ever on any network, according to figures released today by Nielsen Media Research. It is also the most-watched NFC Championship Game to end in regulation in 15 years (52.7 million for Cowboys/Packers in January 1996.)
The contest to select the NFC’s representative at Super Bowl XLV posted a 28.1/50 fast national rating/share, the highest-rated NFL Conference Championship Game in the early broadcast window on any network in 14 years (30.1/58, Panthers/Packers, 1/12/97.) Compared to last year’s AFC Championship Game on CBS that aired in the same broadcast window, yesterday’s NFC Championship Game was up +7% in rating (26.3/47) and +11% in audience, averaging five million more viewers (51.9 vs. 46.9 million viewers.)
Ratings climbed to astonishing levels as the game progressed, peaking at a 31.5/53 rating and 59.5 million viewers from 5:30 – 6:00 PM ET as the Packers punched their first ticket to a Super Bowl in 13 years. FOX Sports estimates that 80.3 million Americans saw at least part of Sunday’s game.
Chicago notched an astounding 50.6/81, the highest rating for an NFL game ever on FOX in the market. Yesterday’s clash with the Packers surpassed Chicago’s average for both Super Bowl XLI on CBS (50.2) in February 2007 and the previous top game on FOX, the 2007 NFC Championship Game (46.1) when the Bears defeated the Saints. Milwaukee topped all markets for the game with a 57.0/85, which tied with the Packers’ 1998 Divisional Game against the Buccaneers for the third highest-rated game ever on FOX in Milwaukee. New Orleans was next at a 40.6/56, followed by Minneapolis, which posted 40.0/69 for the matchup that featured their bitter NFC North rivals.