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Patriots-Steelers average 27.4 million viewers

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The New England Patriots’ 28-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night averaged 27.4 million viewers to rank as the second most-watched “NFL Kickoff” game in the 14-year history of the event.

The Super Bowl-champion Patriots’ victory — led by quarterback Tom Brady (four touchdown passes and a team-record stretch of 19 consecutive pass completions) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (three touchdown receptions) — is television’s most-watched show since the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship (28.3 million viewers on April 6).

With Deflategate behind him, Brady set an NFL record with his 161st victory with one team (he had been tied with Brett Favre, who won 160 games with the Green Bay Packers). Brady finished 25 of 32 for 288 yards and his 23rd career four-touchdown game.

The most-watched, highest-rated quarter hour Thursday night on NBC was 9:15-9:30 p.m. ET with 30.2 million viewers and a 17.5/30 rating, according to fast national data released Friday by the Nielsen Company.

The most-watched “NFL Kickoff” was the 2010 opener (Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints, 27.5 million) featuring an NFC Championship Game rematch. Favre and the Vikings visited the then-defending Super Bowl-champion Saints.

Viewership for the Steelers-Patriots game was up 1 percent from last year’s opening-game (27.1 million for Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks).

Thursday night’s game (8:41-11:29 p.m. ET) registered a national household rating of 16.2/28 — also ranking second best among “NFL Kickoff” games behind 2010 (16.5/28). The rating was up 3 percent from last year’s opener (15.7/27).

NBC Sports Live Extra’s live stream of Thursday night’s game generated record-setting digital numbers. Fans consumed more than 32 million minutes, setting a new NBC Sports Live Extra record and making it the highest-trafficked non-Olympic, non-Super Bowl live stream in NBC Sports Digital history.

The 32 million minutes live streamed tops last year’s “NFL Kickoff” game by 31 percent (24.5 million minutes). NBC Sports Live Extra also posted a record-setting 530,000 unique viewers for Steelers-Patriots — topping last year’s “NFL Kickoff” game by 5 percent.


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