A Sizzling Early Season Start for Sunday Night Football, NBC

The Broncos-Colts game on Oct. 20 was the most-watched October NFL primetime game in more than two decades with 26.9 million viewers, pacing NBC to another ratings win.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football – primetime television’s No. 1 show – is averaging 22.7 million viewers, marking the best seven-week start for an NFL primetime package in 17 years (24.8 million in 1996 for Monday Night Football) and up 5 percent from last year (21.6 million average).

In addition, SNF tops primetime TV in season-to-date live plus same day household rating (13.4 – best in 15 years for NFL primetime package after seven weeks) and Adults 18-49 rating (8.8 – best in 16 years).

Sunday’s Colts-Broncos game featuring Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis averaged 26.9 million viewers (15.9 HH rating), ranking as the most-watched October NFL primetime telecast in 21 years (33.0 million viewers for Cowboys-Eagles on ABC, 10/5/92) and the most-watched October primetime telecast of any kind since 2005.

Since Sept. 1, NBC’s NFL telecasts rank as television’s seven most-watched primetime shows and account for seven of the eight primetime programs to average 20 million viewers (other: NCIS season premiere).

Viewership for the Colts’ 39-33 victory was up 54 percent from last year’s Week 7 game (17.5 million for Steelers-Bengals) and is the fourth-highest Sunday viewership in the eight-year history of NBC’s primetime package (not including "NFL Kickoff" games).

SNF helped guide NBC to a No. 1 ratings finish in adults 18-49 for week four of the 2013-14 primetime season, meaning that NBC has now won the opening four weeks of the season for a second year in a row.

NBC’s 3.0 rating for the week is up 15 percent versus the network’s 2.6 for the same week last year (and is up 43 percent versus NBC’s 2.1 for week four two years ago). The 3.0 is also NBC’s highest week-four rating in six years (since a 3.1 in 2007). The 9.4 million is NBC’s biggest week-four overall audience in seven years (since 10.3 million in 2006).

Through four weeks of the new season, NBC is up 3 percent vs. one year ago in 18-49 (3.2 vs. 3.1) to its highest four-week average in six years (since 2007, 3.5).