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NFL conference title games draw most viewers since 1980s

January 25, 2010

Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. A New York team and the city of New Orleans.

A long list of intriguing story lines — and two close contests — earned huge television ratings for the National Football League's conference championships Sunday. The games drew the most viewers in 28 years, averaging 52.9 million people, up 34 percent from last season.

The dramatic National Football Conference championship attracted 57.9 million viewers, the most since San Francisco beat Dallas on "The Catch" in 1982. The New Orleans Saints' overtime victory over Favre and the Minnesota Vikings on Fox was the most watched non-Super Bowl program since the series finale of "Seinfeld" 12 years ago.

The fast national rating of 30.6 was the highest for a conference championship game since Packers-Cowboys in 1996. In New Orleans, the game drew a 63.2 rating and 82 share, the highest local rating ever for an NFL postseason game.

The Indianapolis Colts' win over the New York Jets on CBS drew 46.9 million viewers, the most for an American Football Conference title game since Patriots-Dolphins in 1986.

Ratings represent the percentage of all households with televisions tuned into a program, and shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time.

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