We sometimes discuss the disparity in ratings power between the NFC and the AFC. The NFC is in bigger markets than the AFC, which often leads to Fox having the highest ratings of the NFL’s TV partners, as well as their pregame show easily out-rating CBS and ESPN’s on Sunday mornings. It’s not like the AFC is any slouch, but the NFC most certainly has a deeper bench.
Thanksgiving Day, the first in history to feature a lineup completely made up of NFC teams, proved that. Every network posted gains from 2013 and had something to crow about. One even set a record.
CBS began the day with the Bears easily dispatching with the rival Lions. The game drew a 15.3 overnight rating, up eight percent from Fox’s performance in the early window (Packers/Lions, 14.1) last year. It was the highest-rated game of the day, and the highest rating for a Thanksgiving game since Dolphins/Cowboys (also a 15.3) on CBS in 2011, and the highest for the early Thanksgiving game since Packers/Lions (15.8) in 2011. CBS tied its best Thanksgiving performance since regaining NFL TV rights in 1998, notable since this was the first time they’d had two NFC teams on the day.
Fox followed up with the Eagles blowing out the Cowboys (true to the 2014 NFL season, none of the games were particularly competitive). The game hit a 15.0 overnight, up one percent from Raiders/Cowboys in the late afternoon slot last year (14.8). As you may have figured out by now, it was the highest-rated late afternoon Thanksgiving game since Dolphins/Cowboys in 2011.
NBC had the rematch of January’s NFC Championship game between the 49ers and Seahawks, and had positive results despite another non-competitive game. The Peacock hit a 12.5 overnight rating for the NFC West rivals, the highest ever for the primetime Thanksgiving window, which only began in the past decade. It was up nearly six percent from Ravens/Steelers last year. The power of the NFL, and specifically the NFC, gave the league a lot to be thankful for.