NFL Thursday Night Football made its 2017 debut on CBS Thursday night with the Green Bay Packers demolishing the Chicago Bears. It was the first of five Thursday night games CBS will broadcast, splitting the season package with NBC, and according to the network, this season’s premiere was an improvement over last year.

Thursday’s Bears-Packers telecast on CBS and NFL Network drew an average overnight of 9.9 and an 18 share. CBS is touting those numbers as a six percent increase over last season, but the network is making a comparison with the Bears-Packers telecast from last year. That game was played on Oct. 20, 2016, obviously a different time of year.

Is it a comparable matchup? Well, yes — the same two teams (albeit with different personnel, especially on the Chicago side) played each other. But it wasn’t at the same point on the calendar or NFL schedule.

According to Sports Media Watch, last season’s Thursday Night Football premiere on CBS — which took place in Week 2, not Week 4 — drew a 9.5 household rating for a game between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. So this year’s 9.9 was still an increase, just not as notable a difference as the 8.5 that Bears-Packers drew in Week 7 in 2016. By the way, TNF drew a 4.8 rating last year, but that telecast was only on NFL Network.

Other factors will need to be considered when comparing these ratings as well. As Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith points out, there was a weather delay lasting approximately 45 minutes during the telecast. How many viewers turned away at that point or even turned on the game, only to see the delay and go elsewhere?

We also don’t yet know Amazon’s numbers for its premiere TNF stream. How might that have affected the CBS/NFL Network ratings, especially with many viewers possibly trying out Amazon’s debut stream to see how it performed?

Were ratings affected by NFL player protests? Were viewers excited to see TNF‘s premiere on CBS? How did the Bears-Packers rivalry matchup factor in? There are many different angles that can be worked into judging Thursday’s telecast, which will need to many different opinions as to what the numbers really mean.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is an editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has covered baseball for Yahoo! Sports,, Bleacher Report and SB Nation, and provides analysis for several sports talk radio shows each week. He currently lives in Asheville, NC.

  • philly97

    I boycotted last night’s game. Not because of anything relating to the anthem, I just wanted to send a message to the NFL to stop putting the Bears in primetime.

    • JWJ

      “…wanted to send a message to the NFL to stop putting the Bears in primetime.”

      A perfectly valid reason.

  • sage419

    Been a Bears fan for over 40 years and NEVER missed a Bears/Packers showdown when it was at all possible to see it. Until last night. And later this year, and on and on. The NFL and its owners now own the disrespect shown by a few players last year as their official stance. It is their right to do so. I find it to be a disgusting stance, one that I will not tolerate. So I have decided to forego the NFL this year and probably beyond. They talk of unity, yet they have thrown away the most unifying thing that we as Americans can do. Standing at attention for the anthem and flag shows respect for the ideals this country are founded on, and the men and women that have and continue to serve her in various manners. The NFL protest is not about unity, but rather is a selfish, hypocritical cry for attention. The only NFL story I hope to follow this year is the continuing decline of their ratings and attendance.

    • Shawn Diiorio

      I’m sorry, but I see posts like this as nothing more than a selfish, hypocritical cry for attention. If you don’t want to watch, that is fine, but like many other people, I don’t care. Because most of them that are criticizing and claim they are boycotting nfl are doing it for all the wrong reasons.

      • sage419

        Obviously you care, or you wouldn’t have taken the time to respond. My reasons are stated; if you think they are wrong that’s your problem.

      • Bragar

        How is it up to you to decide which person is boycotting for the “wrong reasons”?

    • Sean Mooney

      So you are cool watching the NFL when dudes are suffering CTE, and cheating fans out of money in the pre-season, and cheating former players out of millions of dollars of settlements- but when guys won’t stand for Merica you draw the line?

      Seriously dude- reevaluate yourself and stop being a Trump ballwasher

  • JWJ

    Based on numbers of people watching, via Deadline, the number reported as watching the first Thursday night game was 14.6M. Last year’s premiere had 15.4M. My math shows that as 5% drop in the number of viewers.
    From the Sports Media Watch site you have a link to, the 2015 premiere had 21.1M viewers.

    So overall, from when the anti-American protests started in 2016, the TNF premiere has had a drop of 6.5M viewers, or over 30% from the 2015 baseline year. Cumulative comparisons from the most recent baseline year (or do an average from 2013, 2014, & 2015) without anti-American protests should be used.

  • sportsfan365

    I would think the Packers are a good national draw, just like the Cowboys were on Monday night. It will be interesting to know what kind of numbers they get when the Dolphins play the Ravens.