2ND UPDATE, 12:46 PM: The final score is in for last night’s 2015-16 NFL season debut of Thursday Night Football on CBS and its pretty much on the money with 2014. Payton Manning and the Denver Broncos 31-24 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs was watched by 21.18 million viewers on CBS and NFL Network. That’s up 2% from last year’s September 11 debut game and the best TNF has done viewershipwise. With a household result of 12.9/24, the game is also up 2% from the 2014 opener’s result.
Last night’s game was down 23% in viewers from the audience that tuned in for the official season kickoff last Thursday on NBC. That game saw current Super Bowl champs the New England Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21.
UPDATE, 8:40 AM: The second season debut of Thursday Night Football on CBS was steady with its 2014 premiere in metered market ratings and pretty much the same in fast nationals. The dramatic Denver Broncos win over the Kansas City Chiefs last night in K.C. drew a 5.3/18 rating among adults 18-49 in unadjusted fast nationals. Where the MM results were up 4% from the September 11, 2014 game, the early demo ratings dipped 4% from last year’s opener. The before the game the NFL Kickoff Show (3.3/13) slipped 6% from last year. It’s not apples to apples, but last night’s CBS game, which was shown on the NFL Network too, was down 45% from what the New England Patriots 28-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers brought in for NBC last Thursday in the official season kickoff game. CBS won the night in the demo and in total viewership.
The only other originals on primetime last night were NBC’s specials Jeff Dunham: Unhinged In Hollywood (1.2/5) and America’s Got Talent contestant Matt Franco’s Got Magic (1.1/4) – which performed well against the NFL. The specials’ 1.1 result matched NBC’s best Thursday average of the summer among the demo.
PREVIOUS, 7:22 AM: If CBS and the NFL Network wanted to open their mutual primetime season with some serious drama, the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs provided the perfect script for Thursday Night Football last night. A down-to-the-wire 31-24 win by Peyton Manning and the boys over their AFC West rivals in the Chiefs’ house was pretty compelling television. It was also a bit of statistical history, as the Broncos won their the 13th consecutive division road game, the most in NFL history.
In metered-market ratings, the first game of CBS’ second year of the NFL on Thursdays scored a 14.3/25 rating for the net and the NFL Network. That’s the best Thursday Night Football has ever done. It’s also up 4% from the 13.7/23 that the Baltimore Ravens’ 26-6 blowout of the Pittsburgh Steelers drew on September 11 last year. That game, which saw extensive coverage of the Ray Rice scandal, went on to get 7.5/24 rating among adults 18-49 with a total viewership of around 20.8 million.
Compared to last week’s official 2015-2016 season kickoff on NBC, last night’s game was down 19% in MM results. That New England Patriots win over the Steelers eventually had a 10. 3 rating among adults 18-49 and a second-best-ever opener viewership of 27.4 million.
With all the last-minute moves, it is no surprise that last night’s game hit its 15.0/30 peak in the 11:30 PM-midnight slot. We’ll update with more TNF numbers and the rest of what was on primetime later.