Both the NFC and AFC championship games saw double digit gains over last year, as the two games collectively averaged 53.6 million viewers.
The early-window matchup on CBS between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots and their legendary quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady drew 51.3 million, according to Nielsen Fast National data.
That was up 22% over last year's early window and also 8% higher than the 47.7 million for CBS's primetime coverage of Baltimore's triumph over New England last year. The 51.3 million viewers marked the third-highest viewer average for an AFC championship contest behind the 51.6 million watchers on NBC for Cincinnati over San Diego in the "Freezer Bowl" on Jan. 10, 1982 and the 54.9 million who saw Pittsburgh defeat the New York Jets on Jan. 23, 2011 on CBS.
Fox's primetime coverage of the late game between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks averaged 55.9 million, up 17% over last year's aforementioned primetime window. The 55.9 million was also up 33% over the 42 million for Fox's early-window coverage last year of San Francisco's win over Atlanta.
The Jan. 19 telecast is the most-watched, non-overtime NFC championship game since 56.8 million watched San Francisco beat Dallas on Jan. 15, 1995.
Fox will air Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. (ET), featuring the top-seeded Broncos and Seahawks, which posted decisions of 26-16 and 23-17 over the Patriots and 49ers, respectively.
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