TV Ratings: NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Records

TV Ratings: NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Records

The Thanksgiving NFL slate was a feast for league and TV partners. Both afternoon games set ratings records. NBC also saw big numbers with its primetime game and reached a multi-year peak earlier in the day with its annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade telecast.

Fox’s late afternoon NFL telecast of the Dallas Cowboys’ win over the New York Giants recorded 42 million viewers on the network and Fox Sports streaming platforms, making it the most watched regular season game on record (total viewer figures date back to 1988). It surpasses a December 1990 matchup between the Giants and San Francisco 49ers that drew just under 41.5 million viewers — with the caveat that out of home viewing and streaming, neither of which were measured (or existed, in streaming’s case) in 1990, made up a significant portion of Thursday’s audience. Next week, a complete breakdown of digital and on-air viewers will be available.

CBS’ early afternoon matchup, a last-minute Buffalo Bills win over the Detroit Lions, averaged 31. 63 million viewers, the highest tally on record for the early Thanksgiving game. In primetime, the Minnesota Vikings-New England Patriots matchup brought in about 26 million viewers across all platforms, making it the second biggest Thanksgiving primetime game ever (the 2015 contest averaged 27.8 million).

NBC’s live broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday morning delivered 22.3 million viewers, up slightly from 22. 05 million a year ago. An encore showing on the network and streaming on Peacock and other digital platforms brought the total to 27.7 million viewers, which is a five-year, cross-platform high.

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