Ratings: ‘Thursday Night Football’ Ends on High Note for CBS; ABC Dramas Hold Strong

The seventh and final “Thursday Night Football” game on CBS this fall scored big numbers last night, as the Denver Broncos-San Diego Chargers matchup dominated the primetime ratings race, even as ABC held strong with its femme-friendly dramas.

In Nielsen’s metered-market overnights, the Peyton Manning-led Broncos’ 35-21 victory over their division rival averaged a 13.6 household rating/23 share — up two full ratings points from last week’s New York Jets-New England Patriots matchup (11.6/19) and just a tick below the season premiere on Sept. 11 between Pittsburgh and Baltimore (13.7/23). Last night’s game is expected to draw in the vicinity of 20 million viewers.

Through seven games this season on CBS and NFL Network, “Thursday Night Football” averaged an 11.4 overnight household rating/19 share, a big 81% improvement over last year (6.3/11) when the games aired on NFL Network alone. “TNF” continues next week with New Orleans at Carolina exclusively on NFL Network, and CBS premieres its Thursday lineup including “The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men” and “Elementary.”

Elsewhere Thursday, ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (2.5/8 in 18-49, 8.6 million viewers overall), “Scandal” (3.0/9 in 18-49, 10.0 million viewers overall) and “How to Get Away With Murder” (3.0/9 in 18-49, 9.9 million viewers overall) were all up from their season lows of last week and dominated their NBC and Fox competition. “Scandal” and “Murder” are poised to finish as the week’s top two broadcast dramas in 18-49.

Through five weeks of the season, ABC’s Thursday lineup is up more than 20% vs. last year at this time. It will face tougher scripted competition starting next week as CBS transitions from football to its entertainment series.

Opposite the highest-rated Thursday night football game of the television season, NBC’s lineup was down slightly across the board: “The Biggest Loser” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.7 million viewers overall), “Bad Judge” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall), “A to Z” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.2 million viewers overall) and “Parenthood” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall).

Fox’s “Gracepoint” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall) held its audience even though “Bones” was a repeat (0.9/3 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall).

At CW, “The Vampire Diaries” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 1.7 million viewers overall) was down a bit week to week, but “Reign” was up (0.5/1 in 18-49, 1.4 million viewers overall) and appears to have hit season highs in all key categories. For the night, the net beat NBC and Fox in adults 18-34.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 4.5/14; ABC, 2.8/9; Univision, 1.2/4; NBC, 1.1/3; Fox, 0.8/3; CW, 0.6/2; Telemundo, 0.5/1.

In total viewers: CBS, 14.6 million; ABC, 9.5 million; NBC, 4.2 million; Fox, 3.9 million; Univision, 3.0 million; CW, 1.5 million; Telemundo, 1.3 million.

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