When it comes to staking claims in the primetime TV landscape, The Simpsons has one of the best in the biz. The influential animated mainstay locked up its Sunday night time slot long before other networks started using Sundays for their prestige dramas, with its early-season numbers almost always bolstered by its NFL lead-in. That was definitely true for the episode that followed the divisional round playoff matchup on Sunday afternoon, which earned The Simpsons its highest viewership and ratings in years.
How well did The Simpsons fare for its second episode in 2019? Well, it was watched by a whopping total of 10.2 million viewers, which is the kind of massive audience that the long-running comedy has rarely pulled out in the past three decades. Thanks to a lead-in NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the victorious New Orleans Saints, The Simpsons enjoyed its biggest viewership in over four years.
Back on January 4, 2015, the episode "The Man Who Came to Be Dinner" aired as a follow-up to the Wild Card game where the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Detroit Lions, and the poorly reviewed episode was watched by 10.62 million people. In the previous season, the Simpsons episode that aired on that same NFL Wild Card weekend earned a 12.04-million-strong audience. I think everyone can agree that as long as the NFL's postseason contests on Fox are entertaining, The Simpsons will gladly reap the rewards.
To be expected, The Simpsons also earned itself a very impressive demo rating for viewers aged 18-49. According to TVByTheNumbers, "The Girl on the Bus" landed a more-than-solid 3.8 rating, which was also its best stat since that same 2015 episode, which boasted a beastly 4.7 rating.
Other than the NFL game itself and the post-game wrap-up, The Simpsons had the highest totals of the night across all broadcast networks. It beat out NCIS: Los Angeles, which had a second-place viewership of 8.29 million, with God Friended Me (8.23 million) and 60 Minutes (8.08 million) rounding out the other big winners of the night.
As far as the demo rating goes, The Simpsons was followed by Bob's Burgers, amazingly enough. The beloved family comedy actually had its biggest night in 5 years, and its latest episode was watched by around 5.33 million people, with a 2.2 demo rating. Family Guy also earned its highest demo rating of the season with a 1.8, and Lil Rel Howery's comedy Rel ended its freshman season with its best numbers since its post-NFL premiere.
Of course, even The Simpsons' impressive stats don't come close to matching the NFL's mountainous totals. Whenever the primetime measurements kicked in around the end of the game, it was being watched by around 35.6 million people, earning a massive 10.7 demo rating. Fox's NFL Postgame also rocked out, holding onto 31.07 million audience members, with a 9.4 demo rating.
Unlike the other games in the NFL's divisional round, Sunday afternoon's game was a close one that went down to the wire, which definitely helped to keep people in their seats for The Simpsons' latest episode. Next week's NFC Championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints will likely draw an even bigger crowd, so it's possible The Simpsons and the other animated shows will have even more to celebrate next week. (Remember when everybody freaked out over NFL ratings dipping ever so slightly?)
Season 30 has been a pretty fun one for Simpsons viewers, with showrunner Al Jean and his team of writers coming up with fun ways to look back at the show's history and reference old jokes. I mean, the controversy over Apu was markedly less easygoing and playful, but at least that situation seemingly sparked more interesting and insightful conversations as opposed to pure rage.
The Simpsons airs Sunday nights on Fox at 8:00 p.m. ET. To see what other new and returning shows are hitting primetime soon, head to our midseason premiere schedule.