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TV Ratings: Turkey Day Football Rules the Roost

A day full of Thanksgiving foods and football followed a similar trendline to the NFL season overall in Nielsen’s metered market overnight ratings, with the first two games of the day up slightly over similar teams last year.

NBC’s primetime game, which continued the tradition of making your aunt ask why they were calling it “Sunday Night Football” if it was being played on a Thursday, was down an uncomfortable 26% from 2015 as the Pittsburgh Steelers shellacked the Andrew Luck-less Indianapolis Colts, with a 10.8 household rating. However, that 2015 game, between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, was the best-ever metered-market rating in the 10-year history of NFL Thanksgiving night games, and itself a 17% improvement on the previous year, with a 14.6 household rating. Still, Thursday night’s contest won’t do much to assuage NFL ratings fears.

The first game of the day saw the Lions beat the Vikings 16-13 on CBS, bringing in a 14.4 household rating from the 12:45-3:45 p.m. window, and an average audience of 27.6 million viewers. That household rating was up about 5% from the same window the year before, and the total audience was up 9%.

Fox won big with its Cowboys-Redskins game at 4:30 p.m., which drew a massive 15.6 household rating that translates to 35.1 million viewers — the most-watched regular season game on the network. Last year, the same window drew a 15.3 household rating. (In 2015, the Lions were on Fox and the Cowboys on CBS.)

Of course, Thanksgiving Day isn’t just about football. Earlier in the day, NBC’s annual telecast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade drew a 13.5 household rating, up from a 12.6 in 2015. “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina” followed, pulling in its best metered market overnight ratings since 2003, with a 6.4 household rating.

On Wednesday, in Nielsen’s preliminary ratings, CBS was one of the few networks not in reruns or specials for the night. “Survivor” from 8-10 p.m. drew a 1.5 in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic and 7.79 million viewers. “Code Black” stayed steady with a 0.9 in the demo and 6.16 million viewers.

On NBC, a Macy’s Parade sneak peek drew a 0.9 and 4.65 million viewers, and a two-hour “SNL” Thanksgiving special came in with a 1.6 in the demo and 5.38 million viewers.

“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” on ABC pulled in the top demo rating on the night, with a 1.9 and 7.15 million viewers. The CW came in at the bottom of the pile with “The Hollywood Walk of Fame Honors,” which drew a 0.3 and 830,000 viewers from 8-10 p.m.

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