Facing the Latin Grammys on Univision, the Boston Celtics’ victory over the Golden State Warriors further up the dial, and a full slate on the rest of the Big 4 including the winter finale of the final season of Scandal, last night was never going to be easy for Thursday Night Football. In the end, it took no ground but lost no traction in the ratings.
Week 11 of the controversy-heavy and ratings-challenged NFL season and week two on NBC, Thursday Night Football saw its share of protests before the Pittsburgh Steelers decimated the Tennessee Titans 40-17. Several Titans players raised their fists during the national anthem in the “Salute To Service” game, and Titans receiver Rishard Matthews remained in the locker room during the song as he often has this season. All of the Steelers stood during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” last night.
The Steelers stood tall on the field, too. Antonio Brown scored three touchdowns as Ben Roethlisberger and team clinched their fifth straight win and took the reins of the AFC North division. But, with last night’s game snagging a 9.4 in metered market results, the blowout was a ratings bust for the Comcast-owned net, the NFL Network and the league.
Last night’s early results are dead even with the November 9 season debut of TNF on NBC and the NFL Network. That much-closer game saw the Seattle Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals 22-16. The matchup went on to score a 4.0/16 rating among adults 18-49 and 13.10 million viewers for NBC in the final numbers. That’s a stumble of 11% from what was the TNF demo average on CBS earlier in the season.
Because of the shift in start weeks this year, it is a bit apples to avocados to compare last night’s game to the second week of TNF on NBC and the NFL Network in 2016. If you do the metered market math, last year’s Week 2 TNF on the home of Sunday Night Football was down 13% from last night. But here’s the thing: Down 26% from the year before, that Steelers’ 28-7 thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts took place on November 24, 2016, aka Thanksgiving, when plenty of Americans are at home, well fed and ready for football.
Still, to round that out, last year’s TNF Week 2 game ended up with around 21.0 million total viewers, far higher than last night’s game is likely to achieve even as NBC will clearly win the night.
If one were to go straight Week 11-to-Week 11, last night’s TNF was, like last week’s Seahawks win, up 1% in metered market numbers from the November 17, 2016 game.
We’ll update with more TNF plus the Scandal winter finale, The Big Bang Theory, Arrow and the rest of what was on the Big 4 later. In the meantime, here’s one more stat: Last night’s TNF peaked at with a 10.5/17 in MM results in the 9:30–10 PM ET slot.