NFL Kickoff 2021: Opening Game Up 19% To 24M Viewers

The opening game of the 2021 NFL season hardly missed a beat, amassing an eye-popping Nielsen-measured 24.4 million viewers on NBC -- up 19% versus the same game a year ago.

The game featured the current Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who beat the Dallas Cowboys 31-29 in a prime-time broadcast of a game the league calls NFL Kickoff.

A year ago, also on NBC, the Kickoff game pulled in 20.5 million -- posting a 6.7 rating among 18-49 viewers and a 5.3 rating (18-34); and 7.8 rating (25-54) where the Kansas City Chiefs -- at the time, the Super Bowl Champions -- beat the Houston Texans, 34-20.

TV advertising research companies EDO and both said the game pulled in an estimated $60 million in national TV advertising.

EDO says this was up 16% versus a year ago.

The top advertisers for this year’s game, according to, are Toyota Motor, (with 9 airings of commercials); Hyundai (7 airings); T-Mobile (6 airings); Bud Light, USAA and DraftKings (4 airings each); Buffalo Wild Wings, Progressive, and FanDuel (3 airings); Hulu, FTX, Warner Bros. Chevrolet, McDonalds, Samsung Mobile and Target (each with 2 airings).

In 2020, total NFL regular-season TV games were down an average 7% to 15.4 million viewers versus the previous season.



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