NBC was wise to bet on Peyton Manning for its Sunday Night Football opener. When the TV schedules were selected there was uncertainty regarding Manning's health.
But the payoff was worth the chance as Manning can now draw devotees from three markets: Knoxville, were he played at the University of Tennessee, Indianapolis where he spent 14 seasons and won a Super Bowl and now Denver.
Manning's first game as a Denver Bronco drew an 18.0 overnight rating. The rating is the highest rating for a prime time NFL game on NBC.
The previous highest-rated game was New Orleans Saints-Minnesota Vikings season opener in 2010, which drew a 17.7 rating.
The 18.0 rating on Sunday night is an increase from 2011 by 7-percent when the Cowboys and Jets earned a 16.9/27.
More people watched Sunday's game than any other NFL prime time game in the last 15 years. The previous high was a Broncos-49ers game on Dec. 15th 1997 which drew a 19.3 rating.
As expected, Broncos fans watched in force. The Denver TV market drew a 44.2/67 share, the highest rating for an NFL game in the Denver since 2003.