The Dallas Cowboys’ showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday ranked as the most-watched NFL Kickoff Game in six years, garnering a total audience of 26 million viewers and counting, according to NBC Sports.
It was also the most-streamed NBC NFL game to air on linear TV as well as Peacock and NBC Sports Digital, according to preliminary Nielsen estimates. In comparison, the Pittsburgh Steelers-New England Patriots game in 2015 garnered 27.4 million viewers.
The duel on the field, which ended with the Buccaneers emerging victorious 31-29, was up 20% from last year’s NFL Kickoff Game (21.6 million for the Houston Texans-Kansas City Chiefs). In addition, the average minute audience score for last night’s live stream via Peacock, NBC Sports Digital platforms, NFL Digital platforms, Cowboys and Buccaneers mobile properties, and Yahoo Sports mobile properties was approximately 1.6 million viewers, up 64% from last year’s NFL Kickoff Game.
Based on data gleaned from 44 markets, the cities that tuned in the most (in descending order): Dallas, San Antonio, Texas, Tampa, Fla., Providence, R.I., Austin, Texas, Boston, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Fla., Norfolk, Va. and Milwaukee, Wis. NBC Sports asserted that Thursday’s game was the most-watched program since the Feb. 7 Super Bowl telecast.
The total viewership numbers will get a boost when official national data from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics is released Monday. NBC Sports’ NFL Kickoff Weekend coverage runs through Sept. 12 with “Football Night in America” beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The game, which will pit the Chicago Bears against the Los Angeles Rams, will also be available to watch live on NBCUniversal’s Universo and stream on Peacock.