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Browns vs. Lions Shatters NFL Network Preseason Rating Record

Saturday's Browns vs. Lions game, featuring the debut of Johnny Manziel, was the most watched preseason contest in NFL Network history.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

NFL preseason games are typically uneventful and unwatched, especially after the starters for each team exit the game in the second quarter.

On the surface, Saturday's Browns vs. Lions game appeared to fit the bill – a matchup of two traditionally woeful teams that have three playoff appearances between them since 1999.

The ratings from the game tell a different story, as viewers from across the nation made Johnny Manziel's debut in a Browns uniform the most watched preseason game in NFL Network history.

As NFL stated in a blog post today, the game set a preseason rating and viewership record for the NFL Network, which has been televising preseason games for the past 11 seasons.

According to the NFL, the Browns-Lions broadcast drew a 1.81 U.S. HH rating. In other words, 1.81 percent of all U.S. households with a television were tuned into the game. An average of 2.82 million Americans watched the Browns lose to the Lions, 13-12.

For the sake of comparison, the previous record was the 2007 Hall of Fame Game between the Saints and Steelers, which notched a 1.25 U.S. HH and averaged 2.07 million viewers.

How long the new record will stand remains to be seen, but the numbers are impressive. Without a doubt, Manziel is a huge, national draw, whether you like him or not. The ratings from NFL Network only confirm the obvious – people want to see if Manziel is the real deal.

ESPN will likely see a ratings boost Monday as well, as the Browns vs. Redskins game will be featured on a preseason edition of Monday Night Football on August 18. Especially if Manziel starts, the game could receive comparable, if not better ratings.