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NFL TV ratings: Raiders’ Thanksgiving win over Cowboys hits 31-year high

CBS says broadcast drew 38.5m average audience.

29 November 2021 Tom Bassam
The Las Vegas Raiders' overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys saw CBS claim new NFL broadcast record ratings

Getty Images

  • Thanksgiving Day broadcast is highest regular season audience since 1990
  • Early window game sees slight ratings increase for Fox, while NBC sees 12% decline on 2019 numbers

The Las Vegas Raiders’ overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys saw CBS claim its Thanksgiving Day broadcast as the most-watched National Football League (NFL) regular season game on any US network since 1990.

The New York Giants’ narrow 3-7 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers on 3rd December 1990 drew 41.4 million for ABC, but the 2021 Thanksgiving Day broadcast drew an average audience of 38.5 million.

The Raiders’ 36-33 win is now the most-watched broadcast on any network in the US since the Super Bowl in February this year and marked a 26 per cent increase over last year’s comparable game when 30.6 million tuned in to Fox to watch the Cowboys lose 16-41 to the Washington Football Team.

The simulcast on the Paramount+ streaming platform scored an NFL regular season viewership record for total streams, streaming minutes and unique viewers while registering triple-digit year-over-year growth in streaming minutes and unique viewers from Thanksgiving Day 2020.

Final data will be available on 30th November, with the data published by CBS based upon preliminary data from Nielsen Fast Nationals and the broadcaster’s estimated out-of-home-audience.

As for the other 2021 Thanksgiving Day games, according to Sports Media Watch, Fox averaged a 12.6 overnight rating for the Chicago Bears’ 16-14 win over the Detroit Lions, up four per cent from the latter’s equivalent game against the Houston Texans on CBS last year.

The Buffalo Bills’ blowout win over the New Orleans Saints reportedly saw NBC’s overnight rating (9.4) fall 12 per cent from its last primetime Thanksgiving game in 2019 and mark the lowest figure in that slot since the network picked up the rights in 2012.

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