In the kind of game that makes football fans proud of their devotion, it came down to the final minutes in last night’s matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs in the final Thursday Night Football of the season on Fox.
At the end, and after some verbal flubs by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith before the game, the Chargers secured themselves a playoff perch after a comeback and a few brazen moves with a 29-28 victory.
In what was a determined team effort, much of the win was thanks to Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers, as you can see below:
For the Rupert Murdoch-run network and the league, last night’s game was also a winner, on more than one level. Snagging a 12.4/22 in metered market results on Fox and the NFL Network, the nail-biter was the second best early-metric result TNF has seen in two years.
While behind November 29‘s record-shattering Dallas Cowboys victory over the New Orleans Saints, last night’s TNF was still up from last week and last year. In fact, it’s up big, jumping 55% in metered market ratings over the Jacksonville Jaguars’ loss to the Tennessee Titans on December 7. Compared to the comparable Week 15 game between Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts on NBC on December 14, 2017, last night’s Chargers win was up 68%. That Broncos’ victory ended up being a TNF season low in a 2017-2018 season that saw consistent ratings struggles.
Champagne will be popping today in the Fox corner offices for the network’s big-picture win with TNF on a bet that could have gone very wrong based on the ratings challenges that hobbled the NFL and its broadcasting partners the past two years.
At the end of the first TNF season of Fox’s multibillion-dollar multi-year deal to broadcast the midweek NFL games, the soon to be New Fox saw a small but noteworthy bump of 7% over last year’s mix of TNF games on CBS and Comcast-owned NBC.
Which means, Fox easily won Thursday night among the Big 4. We’ll update with more numbers when they’re available.