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NFL season opener posts highest US overnight TV rating of any sports event since February

The 2019 National Football League season started with a bang as the season-opening game on Sept. 5 between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears drew the highest overnight US television rating of any sports event since Super Bowl LII in February. 

The 15.3 overnight rating on NBC, corresponding to the percentage of TV households in the country viewing the Packers-Bears game in key markets, marked a 14 percent improvement from the comparable number for last year’s NFL opener between Philadelphia and Atlanta, and was the highest overnight rated NFL opener since 2016. The rating is also higher than the overnight mark for any non-NFL sports event this year.

Full national ratings, along with digital viewership, are expected later on Sept. 6. 

The two home markets for the NFL opener, Milwaukee (Wisconsin) and Chicago, predictably drew the highest local-market overnight ratings, with Milwaukee drawing a 48.1 rating and Chicago a 35.3. Minneapolis was the top neutral market with a 23.9 rating.

NFL television ratings are always closely watched metrics in US sports media given the league’s regular standing as the most-watched programming in all of American television, regardless of genre. But those ratings have drawn particular focus in recent years after declines in 2016 and 2017 followed by a rebound last year. NBC’s showing for the 2019 opener as a result gives the NFL momentum heading into the first full weekend of 2019 play that will also involve games on CBS, Fox and ESPN.