NEW YORK (AP) — New England quarterback Tom Brady is still television's biggest star during football season.

The Nielsen company said that more than 40 million people on Sunday watched the NFL's two preliminaries for the Super Bowl. Viewership was down 8 percent from the conference championship games a year ago.

Night games are generally watched more than afternoon games, but not this year. Brady's team played in the afternoon, and New England's battle with Jacksonville went down to the wire. New England's win was seen by 44.1 million, compared to the audience of 42.3 million who saw Philadelphia blow out Minnesota in the second game.

In two weeks the NFL finds out if its audience erosion translates to television's marquee event, the Super Bowl.

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