Dolphins-Chiefs playoff game on Peacock sets streaming record with average of 23 million viewers

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Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) warms up before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Miami Dolphins Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

STAMFORD, Conn. – Saturday night's AFC wild-card playoff game between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs on Peacock set a record for the most-watched event on a streaming service.

According to Nielsen, the Chiefs' 26-7 victory in frigid temperatures averaged 23 million viewers on Peacock, NFL+ and on NBC affiliates in Kansas City and Miami. Nielsen also reported Sunday night that the game had a total reach of 27.6 million.

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Fans had to pay for a Peacock subscription, which starts at $5.99, to watch the game, making it the NFL's first playoff game behind a paywall — a move by the league that generated no shortage of complaints from fans.

Nonetheless, the average viewership easily surpassed the previous record of 15.3 million for the Nov. 30 matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys on Amazon Prime Video. It also surpassed the audiences for the Saturday night wild-card playoff games that were shown on NBC in two of the last three years.

Last year’s first-round playoff game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars averaged 20.61 million viewers.

According to various reports, NBCUniversal paid $110 million for the rights to the game. Although the final score wasn't close, the Dolphins-Chiefs game had the novelty of being one of the coldest in NFL history — and Taylor Swift was in attendance to watch her boyfriend, Travis Kelce.

Judging by the audience, Saturday's game is unlikely to be the last playoff matchup shown on a streaming service.

Hans Schroeder, the NFL's executive vice president of media distribution, said viewership would be one factor in deciding if a wild card game would continue to be exclusively streamed in the future.

Under the NFL’s contract, each of its four broadcast partners — NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN/ABC — gets at least one wild-card game. Of the two remaining games, one rotates each year between NBC, CBS and Fox, while the other will likely be up for bid each year. That means Peacock, Paramount+, Amazon or ESPN+ could eventually be in the running.

The Houston Texans' 45-14 rout of the Cleveland Browns averaged 29 million on NBC, Peacock, digital platforms and Telemundo. That is the most watched wild-card game in the late Saturday afternoon slot since a 2018 game between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys averaged 30.06 million on Fox and streaming platforms.



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