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Football, Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Score Big Ratings Thursday

NBC scored early and late on Thanksgiving with the Macy’s Parade and primetime football, while CBS notched the day’s highest rating with its helping of late-afternoon NFL action.

According to Nielsen’s metered market overnights, NBC’s coverage of the 89th annual “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” delivered a 12.6 household rating/27 share, down a tick from last year but standing as the top non-sports telecast of the fall season. The previous high had been the Nov. 15 episode of “60 Minutes” on CBS, which did a 12.5.

The parade registered a strong 7.0 rating in adults 18-49, according to the 25 Nielsen markets with local people meters, up a tenth from last year and the second highest in the last dozen years. This is also the second best of the fall television season excluding sports, behind only the Oct. 11 season premiere of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (7.4).

Following the parade on the Peacock, “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina” averaged a 5.8/13 in the overnights, up 2% from last year and the second highest in 11 years. The event’s preliminary 3.0 rating in adults 18-49 was up 15% from last year’s 2.6 and is the highest to date in the 13 years NBC has tracked it in the local people meters.

In primetime for NBC, the Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers contest, which featured the retirement of Brett Favre’s uniform in a halftime ceremony, averaged a 14.6 overnight household rating/29 share, according to Nielsen — the best-ever metered-market rating in the 10-year history of NFL evening Turkey Day games. The game was up 17% vs. last year’s Thanksgiving night game between Seattle and San Francisco (14.6/29). In total viewers, it drew 27.8 million viewers — the second largest regular-season audience for NBC since it re-acquired the NFL in 2006, behind only the 30.3 million for a Week 17 elimination game between Dallas and Washington in 2012.

The game featured twin peaks in the overnights, logging a 15.3 rating both during halftime (10-10:30 p.m. ET) and for the down-to-the-wire finish from 11:30-11:45 p.m. ET. The top local markets were Milwaukee (44.1/72), Chicago (29.8/57) and Minneapolis (28.1/52).

At CBS, the 4:30-7:50 p.m. ET NFL action between the Dallas Cowboys and undefeated Carolina Panthers averaged 32.5 million viewers (and a 15.3 household rating/37 share in the overnights) to stand as the day’s top program; the game could have rated considerably higher, but the Panthers jumped out to an early lead and the outcome was never in question in the second half. This was the largest audience for any NFL game this season, and also up slightly vs. the comparable Philadelphia-Dallas matchup in the same Thanksgiving window on Fox a year ago (32.0 million).

Outside of football in primetime, CBS scored best with a repeat of “The Big Bang Theory” (3.4/12 in 18-49, 12.8 million viewers overall), which used its football lead-in to come close to last week’s demo score for an original (3.8). It was followed by original episodes of “Life in Pieces” (2.2/8 in 18-49, 8.0 million), “Mom” (1.6/6 in 18-49, 6.7 million), “2 Broke Girls” (1.6/5, 5.9 million) and “Elementary” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 5.3 million).

Fox’s special “The All-Star Dog Rescue Celebration” managed a mere 0.4/1 in 18-49 and 2.1 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m., down sharply from a similar special last year (1.3 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall) when it aired immediately after the network’s NFL coverage.

Of note on Wednesday, Fox’s “Empire” hit a series low as expected on the lightly watched Thanksgiving Eve (3.1/10 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall), but it was a bit surprising how hard it fell. The show, which was easily the night’s top draw in young adults, tumbled about 30% week to week and now must bounce back quickly as its fall finale is scheduled for next week. Its previous series low came with its first episode last January (3.8/11 in 18-49, 9.9 million viewers overall).

At CBS, “Code Black” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 7.6 million viewers overall) took advantage of special repeat (and non-scripted) competition to rise 17% (0.2) from last week and post the show’s best numbers since its premiere. Last week, CBS ordered five additional episodes of the modestly rated but steady first-year hospital drama.

ABC hung in there with repeats of its regular Wednesday comedies “The Middle” (1.3/5 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall), “The Goldbergs” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall), “Modern Family” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.7 million viewers overall) and “Black-ish” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall) before falling off as usual at 10 p.m., this time with a repeat of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 2.5 million viewers overall).

NBC went with a special tied to next week’s live musical “The Wiz” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall), followed by a Thanksgiving-themed “Saturday Night Live” clips special (1.1/4 in 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall).

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