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NFL fans will tune in on Sunday, Nielsen data suggests

January 15, 2009 |  5:00 pm

Sunday's NFL conference championship games (Eagles/Cardinals at noon PT and Ravens/Steelers at 3:30 PT) will bring football nirvana for two sets of fans and football hell for the other pair.

In years past, Nielsen Media Research reports, NFL fans watch plenty of football on conference championship Sunday. Last year, 66% of the households that watched conference championship broadcasts tuned in for both games. Neilsen reports that 85% of the AFC’s audience also watched part of the NFC game, while 75% of the NFC audience watched the earlier AFC game.

Last year’s Giants/Packers and Chargers/Patriots broadcasts attracted a record 98 million viewers -- the most for any conference championship Sunday since 1982.

Last year's NFC and AFC championship games were the second and third highest-rated television broadcasts of 2008, according to Nielsen. The two games finished ahead of the most-watched Olympics broadcast and were behind only the Super Bowl XLII broadcast that was the second most-watched U.S. television broadcast of all time.

Here are the last few years' viewer totals, courtesy of Nielsen.

Year Network        Matchup                           Viewers
2008 FOX              N.Y. Giants/Green Bay      53,937,000
2008 CBS              New England/San Diego     44,840,000

2007 FOX              Chicago/New Orleans        43,247,000
2007 CBS              Indianapolis/New England  46,695,000

2006 FOX              Seattle/Carolina               35,233,000
2006 CBS              Pittsburgh/Denver            39,001,000

2005 FOX              Philadelphia/Atlanta         42,937,000
2005 CBS              New England/Pittsburgh    44,334,000

2004 FOX              Carolina/Philadelphia        40,444,000
2004 CBS              New England/Indianapolis  40,115,000

-- Greg Johnson