UPDATED, 4:28 PM: The score of the sometimes painful-to-watch Dallas Cowboys 38-14 win over the Washington Redskins last night on Thursday Night Football was determined hours ago, but the real final figures finally are in.
Now, yes, 15.6 million does seem to be less than the 16.91 million who tuned in with bellies full of Thanksgiving feasting to endure the November 23 primetime game between the winning Redskins and the NY Giants. And, you would be correct in your math but not your scheduling. Though it had all the semblance of a TNF game, the Thanksgiving match-up was actually not programmed as one. Add to that, the Redskins vs. Giants was not part of the TNF package deal and actually not shown on NFL Network and you have a hair splitting that is legit.
So, comparing regular apples to regular apples, last night’s game beat the previous high of the New England vs. Tampa Bay game that played on CBS and the NFL Network by just a mere 1% to claim that most viewed title. But a win, as the Cowboys will tell you, is a win in football no matter how close.
PREVIOUS, 7:25 AM: With all the political controversy and ratings slips and slides that have characterized the current NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys’ 38-14 slam down of the Washington Redskins last night may have been the near perfect encapsulation of what is hobbling the league and broadcasters.
For one, in a Cowboys stadium that was full of empty seats clear to TV viewers, the Thursday Night Football battle was often painful to watch even as Dallas grinded their way to a likely playoff berth and Washington’s hopes essentially came to an end. Coming off a three game-losing streak, that was good news for Dallas, who are now 6-6, but no one could say this was elegant football. However, there was a touch of history last night as the Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant became the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdown catches after a 13-yard reception from QB Dak Prescott in the fourth quarter.
With that record in Bryant’s hand and no national anthem protests, the numbers on last night’s TNF are a mixed bag.
Snaring a 10.7/18 result in metered market ratings on NBC and the NFL Network, last night’s game was up and it was down – and the latter was harsh.
Compared to the TNF game of December 1, 2016, last night’s TNF took a dive of 24% in the early ratings. The second best TNF metered market results of last season, that Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings march-up went on to score a 6.8/25 among adults 18-49 and 21.76 million viewers.
Looking at the more immediate past, last night’s TNF was up 10% over the terrible primetime Thanksgiving game between the Redskins and the NY Giants in MM results. Down 10% in the early numbers from Thanksgiving 2016, the benign November 23, 2017 20-10 win by the DC team ended up with a 5.1/20 in the key demo and 16.91 million viewers.
Now, there is a bit of a pre-Christmas treat out of last night for NBC and the NFL. With a peak of 11.5/19 in the 9:30 – 10 PM ET slot, last night’s TNF did deliver the best MM result for any Thursday game on any network since the October 5 New England Patriots’ win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
As TNF stayed basically steady in metered market numbers with last week, the top scripted show of the night took a tackle. Dipping 8% from its last original of November 16, The Big Bang Theory (2.4/9) hit a series low last night.
As BBT kicked off the night for the House of Moonves, spinoff Young Sheldon (2.1/8) took a 19% dive from its Thanksgiving night airing of last week. While even with their episodes of two weeks ago, Mom (1.4/5) and Life In Pieces (1.1/4) tumbled 22% and 15% respectively. S.W.A.T. (1.0/4) was up a tenth from its November 16 show but down the same from last week.
With NFL adjustments obviously in the offering, right now NBC owns the night with a 3.1/11 rating and 10.9 million viewers. TNF is currently posting a 3.3/12 rating in the key demo and an audience of 11.6 million in the fast affiliates.
ABC didn’t have any football last night but the Disney-owned net was wall-to-wall holiday specials with A Charlie Brown Christmas (1.6/6) and a two-hour The Wonderful World Of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration (1.2/5). The former was up 7% in the 18-49s over last year while the latter rose 20% from its November 24, 2016 showing.
On Fox, the 8 PM Gotham (0.8/3) was down a tenth from its last original as The Orville (0.9/3) held steady. The CW’s Supernatural (0.5/2) was technically a season low as last week’s two tenths lower episode was categorized as a special by the net. Slipped in the space usually reserved for Arrow, Penn & Teller: Fool Us got a 0.3/1 rating last night.