We were kind of wondering about what kind of ratings the laugher on Thursday Night Football between the Falcons and Buccaneers would draw. I don’t think any of us expected this – a 6.8 rating on CBS and a 1.7 on NFL Network.
The combined 8.5 overnight was 25% higher than last year’s Chiefs-Eagles game that aired solely on NFL Network and on broadcast TV in the local markets. The 8-11 primetime combined rating on both networks was an 8.4, which beat Fox, NBC, and ABC combined in primetime by 17%. The 6.8 on CBS was nearly triple ESPN’s top 25 matchup of Auburn vs Kansas State, and NFL Network’s 1.7 was actually pretty close to matching ESPN’s 2.3.
There’s always some bad news, and with these ratings, there’s this – this week’s game was down 38% from last week’s Steelers-Ravens game, which drew a monstrous 13.7 overnight in the face of the Ray Rice situation.
But let’s think about this in a bubble. CBS had a primetime game featuring two teams in the bottom quarter of the NFL’s average local ratings this year. The result was a six touchdown blowout in favor of the home team, with five Falcons touchdowns on the board in the first 22 minutes of the game. ESPN had a closely fought matchup of two top 25 schools, one of which was in the BCS Championship game last year. And… the NFL still trounced everything in its way.
Next Thursday, UCLA and Arizona State will battle on Fox Sports 1. Oklahoma State hosts Texas Tech on ESPN. And the Redskins host the Giants on CBS and NFL Network, and will likely end up destroying everything in its path, just like a blowout featuring mediocre teams did this week. Just imagine what these ratings are going to look like once CBS and NFL Network get some good matchups and entertaining games. It’s also pretty plain to see why CBS jumped at the opportunity to get this package – it’s not too often when one game destroys everything on broadcast television combined.
I also think this reaffirms the notion that Thursday Night Football isn’t going anywhere. With ratings like that, it’s a cash cow a league can bring in money at will. Hopefully, we don’t get a spinoff of Thursday Night Football on Friday nights, designed for the sole purpose of wringing more money out of a network and taking over yet another evening.