Bucs' come-from-behind victory a ratings boon for NBC
Forty-nine times now in his 21-plus NFL seasons, Tom Brady has engineered a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime. And evidently, NFL viewers haven't grown weary of it.

The Bucs' 31-29 victory Thursday night against the Cowboys, set up by Brady's 82-second, 57-yard scoring drive down the stretch, was NBC's highest-rated NFL Kickoff Game since 2015, the network announced Friday.

The game registered a total audience delivery average of approximately 26 million viewers across NBC TV, Peacock, NBC Sports Digital and NFL Digital platforms. Based on that preliminary data, it's the network's largest opening-night audience since Brady led the Patriots to a 28-21 victory against the Steelers in the 2015 opener (27.4 million viewers). It also represents a 20 percent jump from last year's Thursday night opener (21.6 million total audience delivery) between the Texans and Chiefs.

NBC's televised coverage peaked at 25.4 million viewers between 9:45 and 10 p.m., and topped 22 million viewers in 11 of the 14 quarter-hours from 8:30 to 11:55. The average minute audience for the game's live stream (via Peacock, NBC Sports Digital platforms, NFL Digital platforms, Cowboys and Buccaneers mobile properties, and Yahoo Sports mobile properties) was approximately 1.6 million viewers. That's the highest ever for an NFL game on NBC excluding Super Bowls, and a 64 percent jump from the 2020 opener (970,000).

The game registered a national TV household Nielsen rating of 13.4 and a 32 share. The first number represents the percentage of total national TV households tuned into a program at a given time; the latter is the percentage of TV sets in use. By contrast, the 2020 Thursday night opener garnered an 11.2 rating and 23 share.

Joey Knight, The Tampa Times, published 10 September 2021