Bucs vs. Cowboys game was the most-watched first NFL game since 2015

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Tom Brady # 12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passes against the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium on September 09, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.

Mike Ehrmann | Getty Images

The National Football League started its 2021 season with an exciting contest featuring two top quarterbacks and a fan stadium, which has helped it attract the most viewers since 2015.

NBC said its 2021 NFL opener between reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys averaged 26 million total viewers on Thursday and peaked at 25.4 million viewers between 9:45 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

The game marked a 20% increase in viewership from last year’s NFL kickoff with the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. This contest averaged 19.3 million viewers and was the first NFL game during the pandemic.

The opening of the NFL 2020 faced competition from the National Basketball Association League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the US Open of tennis. These leagues played at the same time due to the postponements of the pandemic, which had an impact on the NFL audience. By comparison, the 2019 opener featuring the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears averaged around 22 million viewers.

The Bucs beat the Cowboys 31-29, behind Tom Brady’s push in the fourth quarter, leading to the winning placement. Brady, 44, finished the game completing 32 of 50 assists and four touchdowns. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott also made the show, throwing 403 yards and three touchdowns.

NBC, the parent company of CNBC, said the 2021 contest averaged 24.4 million television viewers and was the most-watched launch game since the Pittsburgh Steelers’ New England Patriots opening game. in 2015. The game also featured Brady and drew 27.4 million viewers.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws a pass during the regular season game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 09, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Cliff Welch | Sportswire icon | Getty Images

Major markets for the 2021 NFL opening included Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas; Tampa Bay, Florida; and Providence, Rhode Island.

According to advertising data firm EDO, the network generated estimated ad spend of more than $ 60 million for the 2021 NFL opening, up 16% from last year. EDO measures ads through search engine visibility, which quantifies ad engagement five to 10 minutes after an ad appears.

The company told CNBC that crypto and financial services companies shared 18% of total search engagement for ads that appeared in the Bucs vs Cowboys game, while companies in the gambling category did not share. than 2%. The average announcement from last night’s game generated 21% more engagement than last year’s contest.

“Last night’s opener was great news for NFL advertisers, NFL broadcast partners and the league,” EDO CEO Kevin Krim said via email. “We had strong year-over-year performance with higher search scores significantly higher than the opening last year.”


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