With the New England Patriots not playing for the first time since 2011, the AFC Championship Game between the Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs suffered a big dive when it comes to viewership, according to Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily. Per a report by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk quoting Karp, the 3:05 p.m. showdown between the Titans and the Chiefs aired on CBS on Sunday drew just 41.1 million average viewers. The Chiefs defeated the Titans, 35-24, to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years.

Last year’s NFC title game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints was played around the same time, but it drew more viewers with over 44 million glued to their TV sets.

With the Patriots and veteran quarterback Tom Brady not playing in the AFC Championship for the first time since 2011, the AFC title game attracted its smallest audience in 11 years, when the Ravens and Steelers generated 40.6 million in early 2009. The viewership number for the Titans-Chiefs clash was the smallest since the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers garnered 40.6 million viewers in their 2009 clash for the AFC crown.

Viewership in NFC title clash also drops

The NFC title game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers played around the 6:40 p.m. ET window drew an average viewership of 42.7 million. The 49ers got a needed boost from running back Raheem Mostert, who ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns in their 37-20 win over the Packers.

They made it to the big stage for the first time since 2012. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also made it to the Super Bowl for the first time as starter after winning two as Brady's backup with the Patriots.

When the Patriots beat the Chiefs in overtime, 37-31, in last season’s AFC title game that was played around the late window en route to their sixth Super Bowl title, the game drew 53.9 million viewers.

The 2019 clash between the Patriots and Chiefs started a new rivalry between Brady and young quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Focus now on Super Bowl ratings

The focus will now shift to Super Bowl LIV on February 2 in Miami to see if the Patriots’ absence will affect viewership. The Patriots played the previous three Super Bowls against the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Rams, winning two.

The Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII was watched by around 98.2 million viewers, per CNBC.

CNBC reported that based on data from Nielsen, the viewership of the Patriots-Rams clash was the lowest since 2008 when 97.5 million tuned in as the New York Giants spoiled New England’s attempt for a perfect season with a 17-14 win in Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots’ postseason campaign ended early with a 20-13 loss to the Titans in the Wild Card Game. The Patriots had a chance to clinch a first-round bye but they lost to the Miami Dolphins in their season finale, en route to a 12-4 record in the regular season.

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