Although just 22 points were scored, the New Orleans Saints vs Dallas Cowboys primetime Sunday Night Football matchup broke NBC Sports’ records.
Traveling to New Orleans, America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys, helped bring the viewers. Starting at 8:20 pm EST, the Saints vs Cowboys ended as NBC Sports Digital’s most-streamed game in the network’s Week 4 history, according to a press release from the company.
This is an awing fact given the actual action involved in the game. Oh, and it was extra shocking given that Saints’ star quarterback Drew Brees wasn’t actually involved in the game, being sidelined with a thumb injury.
These numbers are, of course, only for Week 4. Over 24 million people tuned in for the defensive-focused matchup, twice as many people as the entire state of Ohio. That number is significantly higher than last year’s Week 4 primetime matchup, the Steelers vs Ravens.
Here’s how the released phrased the year-over-year comparison.
"The Cowboys-Saints TAD of 24.7 million viewers across NBC TV, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital platforms, represents a 35% increase over last year’s Week 4 game (18.2 million for Ravens-Steelers) and is the most-watched regular-season game on NBC in nearly three years (26.7 million for Cowboys-Giants on Dec. 11, 2016)."
The Saints are one of the league’s best teams, but they certainly aren’t one of the most popular.
Right now, the trending teams are the undefeated Chiefs and Patriots and a then-3-0 Cowboys. The Saints, although 2-1 prior to the game, weren’t a top-tier team in terms of popularity. However, their roster is one that’s among the league’s best.
It’s interesting that a primetime rivalry doesn’t hold the spot. But, a generation craving entertainment begs for games between high-profile teams. That’s what they got, and they showed that they’re going to viewing these primetime games.
That’s going to force the league to give more of these primetime games to teams that’ll bring in the audience.
That said, for New Orleans, it may actually be in their favor that Brees wasn’t playing, and they could help combine for these ratings. They were, according to that release, the top streamed market for Saints-Cowboys.
Is superstar Alvin Kamara enough to get those not fans of Who Dat Nation involved? After all, it was the Saints fans and then players that have Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara on their fantasy teams watching.
For NBC, they don’t care who watches, just that the ratings are there.
Overall, this is an impressive feat and makes the 12-10 victory for New Orleans just a tad bit sweeter.