No Aaron Rodgers, no problem.
Despite the four-time NFL MVP riding the pine in the Jets’ preseason opener against the Browns on Thursday in the annual Hall of Fame Game, NBC Sports posted record ratings for the matchup, which saw Cleveland claim a 21-16 victory.
NBC Sports PR reports the Jets-Browns game was the network’s “most-watched presentation of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game since 2018, averaging 6.3 million viewers.”
Here’s the kicker: the NBA reported in June that the 2023 playoffs “averaged 5.47 million viewers, making it the most-watched playoffs in five years.”
This year’s NBA Finals between the Heat and Nuggets averaged 11.64 million viewers, according to the league, with Denver defeating Miami in five games.
Granted, it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison, but the point stands.
Even an NFL preseason game with no star power is must-see TV.
Rodgers likely inspired many viewers to tune in for the first NFL broadcast since the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-35, to win Super Bowl 2023 in February, even though there was no shot of the quarterback getting on the field for his Jets debut.
The 39-year-old Rodgers still had a direct impact on the game, suggesting a play to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett that resulted in third-year quarterback Zach Wilson tossing a 57-yard completion to wide receiver Malik Taylor.
“Great call by Aaron Rodgers,” Wilson said after the game. “I have to give him a shoutout there. We were backed up then and took the shot downfield. Malik’s done great job all camp and I wanted to get a ball to him.”
Wilson finished the game by completing three of five attempts for 65 yards and a QB rating of 104.2, earning praise from head coach Robert Saleh.
“Zach did a good job, he was poised and looked comfortable in the pocket,” Saleh said.
“It’s just rebuilding that confidence and swag we (saw) during the draft process. No setbacks. It’s all about confidence with him.”