The TV ratings for this year’s AFC title game suffered a significant dropoff when compared with last season.
According to CBS, the AFC championship between the Chiefs and Titans drew 41.1 million average viewers. Last year’s overtime game between Kansas City and New England averaged 53.9 million — according to Variety, which marked a five-year high for the AFC title game.
No one is attributing the dip solely to the absence of the Patriots. There’s an argument to be made for timing, as the late game has occasionally enjoyed better ratings, and that may have been part of the reason the NFC battle in the later window had better totals — 43.6 million viewers, per reports.
You could also argue that last year’s AFC championship game was more competitive, which likely created a ratings spike as the game went on. Last year’s NFC title game also provided an excellent lead-in, as that Saints-Rams game also was a thriller that was decided late.
But history has shown the Patriots are an undeniably compelling team that moves the needle when it comes to TV ratings — ultimately, this year’s AFC title game attracted its smallest audience in 11 years. (The Ravens and Steelers generated 40.6 million in early 2009.)
In the end, New England fans weren’t the only ones missing out on the fact that the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady weren’t back in the AFC championship game this time around.
Follow Christopher Price @cpriceglobe.