The thrilling NFC Championship Game that saw the Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 Sunday averaged 55.9 million television viewers nationwide on FOX Sports, up 17 percent from the game in a similar time slot last season.

With a 28.5 national rating and 44 share, it also was the highest rated non-overtime NFC title game since 1997. Viewership peaked at 60.3 million when Richard Sherman deflected a pass to Malcolm Smith for a game-clinching interception.

Seattle led all local markets in viewership with a 53.9 rating and 85 share on KCPQ (Channel 13), followed by San Francisco (47.5/78), Sacramento (46.7/72), Portland (39.5/63) and Milwaukee (38.9/57).

Ratings account for the percentage of households with televisions that are watching a certain program. Shares measure the percentage of TVs in use at the time that are tuned to that program.

Viewership of the AFC Championship, the early game Sunday between Denver and New England, also was up big from last season with a 28.1 national rating and 51 share, the second-highest marks for an AFC title game in 17 years.

The Broncos’ 26-16 victory averaged 51.3 million viewers nationwide on CBS, up 22 percent from last year.