The NFL sacked the Nielsen ratings on Sunday with much of the Eastern seaboard snowed-in.
The New England Patriots-Denver Broncos game, whose outcome remained in doubt until the second-to-last play, captured a 31.8 rating for CBS. Atop Mother Nature’s assist and the competitive quality of the championship tilt, CBS benefited from the possibility that the game played as the last such high-stakes contest between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
The perfect storm of the blizzard’s aftermath, the competitive quality, and the game’s two biggest stars again battling it out gave the network the best AFC Championship Game ratings in 29 years.
On Fox, the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals delivered solid ratings. But because Carolina put the game out of reach for Arizona early, the numbers suffered compared to the AFC matchup. The 49-15 blowout garnered a 26.8 rating for Fox.
The huge audience worked well for the debut of the six-part X-Files reboot. The series, which saw Fox Mulder and Dana Scully confront a conspiracy engineered by global elites rather than space aliens, drew 13.5 million viewers and a 5.1 rating despite its late start. The X-Files runs a new episode tonight minus the NFL lead-in.