The Denver Broncos’ 20-18 victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC title game Sunday made some TV history in Western New York.
The 40.2 rating on WIVB-TV made it the highest-rated AFC title game since television programs started being measured by meters here in April, 2000.
To put the rating in even more perspective, it was 33 percent higher than the 30.0 rating for New England’s rout of Indianapolis on the local CBS affiliate for the AFC title in 2015. And that game was played in prime time when ratings often are higher.
Additionally, the rating was as high or even higher than several Buffalo Bills regular season games in 2015.
Of course, there were multiple reasons for the high rating here.
They start with WNY’s dislike of the Patriots and their incredible quarterback Tom Brady.
In addition, the saga of 39-year-old Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning playing what could have been his final game added to viewer interest on a cold Sunday afternoon.
Finally, the game wasn’t decided until the Patriots’ two-point conversion attempt failed will 12 seconds left in the game and a subsequent onside kick was recovered by the Broncos with 11 seconds left.
Carolina’s 49-15 rout of Arizona Sunday for the NFC title had a 32.1 rating on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate. That was down slightly from the 33.6 rating for Seattle’s win over Green Bay in 2015.
Carolina’s win behind 26-year-old quarterback Cam Newton already has set up what NBC’s “Today” referred to as a "Battle of the Ages" in the Super Bowl between Newton and Manning on Feb.7.
It will be carried by CBS, with Channel 4 most likely getting a rating in the 50s for the game.
Carolina’s rout of Arizona undoubtedly lowered the rating for the premiere of part one of the six-part miniseries reboot of “The X-Files” carried on Fox. With the NFC title game as the lead-in, the return of Scully and Mulder had a 10.2 local rating on WUTV. That is much higher than any regular Fox program gets here, but that was expected to be the case considering the lead-in. The more important question is how “X” will do in subsequent episodes without that lead-in.