Peyton Manning's first game as a Denver Bronco and return after a year-long NFL absence helped stoke the highest rating for any NBC prime time regular-season game, the network reported.
The Broncos-Steelers overnight rating of 18.0 was up 8 percent from last year's first Sunday Night Football game (Cowboys- Jets) and topped the previous record of 17.7 registered for the 2010 season-opener between the Saints and Vikings.
The Broncos routinely saw ratings spikes in the 2012 season and playoffs when then-sensation Tim Tebow was quarterbacking comebacks, and it's interesting to note that last night's Manning debut did not outdraw last year's Broncos-Steelers playoff game according to Lindsay Jones of the Denver Post:
It wasn’t, however, a bigger TV event than the last game between the Broncos and Steelers, when the playoff game on CBS earned a national rating of 25.9 and 43 share, particularly late in the game. Variety, which covers the TV industry, estimated that 45 million viewers watched the Broncos win that game in overtime.