Texans-Ravens was ESPN’s most-watched NFL game ever with 31.8M viewers


The AFC Divisional showdown between the Texans and Ravens this past Saturday not only delivered an exhilarating display of football but also etched itself into the annals of ESPN’s history as the network’s most-watched NFL game ever. A staggering 31.8 million fans were glued to their screens, captivated by the stellar performance of Lamar Jackson.

The game reached its zenith during the third quarter, attracting a staggering 36.2 million viewers between 6:30 and 6:45 p.m. ET, as reported by Nielsen.

Remarkably, ESPN’s top five most-watched games have all unfolded in the past 13 months, including various Monday Night Football (MNF) fixtures. Furthermore, the network’s three latest playoff games have now become its three highest-rated NFL games.

The Texans-Ravens clash, with its 31.8 million viewers, also stands out as Disney’s most-watched NFL game, excluding Super Bowls. This remarkable audience outperformed all 24 Disney NFL Playoff games spanning the last 28 years, encompassing 14 exclusively on ABC (1996-2005), nine available on both ABC and ESPN (2016-23), and one solely on ESPN (2015).


Surpassing the viewership of every regular-season game exclusively on ABC since Disney’s acquisition of the channel in 1996, the Texans-Ravens matchup is poised to potentially surpass all early divisional playoff games since 2015—excluding last season’s Jaguars-Chiefs, witnessed by 32.3 million fans.

With only a two percent boost in viewership (500,000 viewers), ESPN could outshine its own record. This unprecedented playoff viewership follows a groundbreaking fall for MNF audiences, making the 2023 MNF season the franchise’s most-watched since the 2000 NFL season. Viewership surged 29 percent year-over-year, surpassing each of the previous 18 seasons in the ESPN era (2006 – present) and the five seasons leading into that era when MNF aired exclusively on ABC.

As the Ravens gear up to host the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game on Sunday, January 28, anticipation is high for another record-breaking spectacle. Lamar Jackson, coming off an exceptional performance against Houston, will face the formidable two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. Jackson’s two touchdown passes, two rushing scores, and impressive passing completion of 72.7 percent, a QB rating of 93.9, and 152 passing yards have undoubtedly fueled the excitement among fans.

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