The three Thanksgiving Day NFL games this season smashed records for the league, averaging 29.7 million viewers across both TV and digital platforms. That’s the highest average for the slate since 1998, and up 9% from last year’s two games (which averaged 27.1 million viewers) and the three games that aired in 2019 (27.4 million).
?Huge @NFL viewership numbers on Thanksgiving?
*Avg. viewership of 29.7 million (TV+Digital) for the 3 Thanksgiving Day games — highest since 1998
*Viewers watched total of 17.1 billion minutes of LIVE @NFL games on Thanksgiving Day — highest on record pic.twitter.com/0eFBVnKxIE
— NFL Media (@NFLMedia) November 30, 2021
The highlight was, clearly, the Raiders’ win over the Cowboys in overtime on CBS. That game averaged a stunning 38.3 million viewers across broadcast and digital platforms, with 37.84 million tuning in on CBS. It clocks in as the second most-watched NFL Thanksgiving Game on record, and third most-watched regular season game since 1988.
The other two games also did well, though they were dwarfed by the middle game on the slate. In the early window on Fox, Bears-Lions picked up 26.75 million viewers, up 14% from last year’s Lions game on CBS (23.39 million) and down 1% from Bears-Lions on Fox two years ago (27.09 million). In primetime, the Bills’ dominant win over the Saints drew 19.38 million viewers. There was no primetime game in 2020 due to a COVID outbreak postponing Ravens-Steelers, and the game was down 7% from Saints-Falcons on NBC in 2019 (20.81 million).
I’m shocked (SHOCKED!) that a great game involving one of the league’s most popular teams drew such a huge number. The NFL can draw huge audiences on Thanksgiving in their sleep, but when the stars align, we can truly see a mammoth amount of viewership, as we did with the Raiders-Cowboys game this year.