NFL conference title game viewership falls 16% from last year

Sunday’s NFL conference title games were seen by an average of 44.9 million viewers according to preliminary data, certainly a formidable number but representing a 16% drop fromNFC Championship Game logo 2012.

CBS’s telecast of the AFC game, a 28-13 win for the Baltimore Ravens over the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., drew  47.7 million viewers, based on Nielsen’s overnight survey of its 56 metered markets.

The early game, which saw the visiting San Francisco 49ers erase a 17-0 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 for the NFC championship, drew 42 million viewers for Fox.

Last year’s games were seen by an average of 53.7 million viewers, which was the biggest total in 30 years. (See companion blog Reveal Shot for more on the big ratings rolled up by the title games of Jan. 10, 1982, particularly Dallas at San Francisco.)

In the 2012 AFC Championship Game, New England topped Baltimore 23-20, as Patriot fans sweated out a missed field goal attempt by the Ravens’ Billy Cundiff with 11 seconds left.

The New York Giants beat San Francisco 20-17 in overtime to take last year’s NFC crown. The 49ers tied the game at 17 on a 25-yard David Akers FG with 5:39 to play in regulation. In overtime, the Giants recovered Kyle Williams’ second fumble of the game to set up Lawrence Tynes’ game-winning kick from 31 yards out.

— David B. Wilkerson