Ratings Roundup: CBS, FOX Cook Up Largest Thanksgiving NFL Audience Since 1998

As expected, the NFL reigned supreme during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with the CBS Thanksgiving game (Dolphins/Cowboys) delivering 30.9 million viewers in final Nielsen numbers, to mark the most for a CBS Thanksgiving game since it acquired the AFC package in 1998 and ranking as the most-watched television show this fall. In addition, CBS’s Sunday game, featuring Patriots/Eagles, drew 26.3 million viewers to score as the channel’s most-watched Sunday telecast of the season.

Fox’s Packers-Lions Thanksgiving game notched a 15.8 overnight rating, to match the 1998 Vikings/Cowboys game as the network’s highest-rated game on the holiday since 1996.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football, featuring the Saints blowing out the Giants 49-24, won the night among all networks in households, viewers, and all key male and adult demos, averaging a 9.3 household rating, with more than 10.6 million households and 14.4 million viewers. MNF is averaging an 8.5 household rating so far this year….

…Football also ruled the weekend north of the border, as the CFL’s GREY CUP posted an average overnight audience of 4.6 million viewers on TSN and RDS. It was the most-watched television program of the week in Canada and the most-watched sports program of the broadcast year. Overall, more than 11 million Canadians, or more than 1 in 3 Canadians, tuned in to watch some or all of last night’s broadcast on TSN and RDS…

…The ratings results were a mixed bag for college football’s rivalry week.

On Thanksgiving Day, Texas-Texas A&M on ESPN earned a 2.4 in what could be their final Big 12 matchup.

On Friday #3 Arkansas/#1 LSU game earned a 6.1 overnight rating on CBS, down 19% from last year (AUB/ALA: 7.5). Other Friday games included Iowa/#21 Nebraska earning a 2.2 overnight (down 12% from last year’s 2.5 for WVU/PIT) and Boston College/Miami with a mere 1.5, down a tick from last year (COL/NEB: 1.6).

On Saturday, #2 Alabama/#24 Auburn earned a 4.3 overnight, almost even with last year (LSU/ARK: 4.2). Saturday’s Ohio State/#15 Michigan game earned a 5.3 overnight rating on ABC, the highest rating for the matchup since 2007 (6.4). Later in the day, #5 Virginia Tech/Virginia drew a 3.2 overnight, down 16% from last year (NWU/WISC: 3.8). In the nightcap, the #22 Notre Dame/#6 Stanford Saturday Night Football game scored a 4.1 overnight — down 21% from last year (OU/OKST: 5.2)…

Sidney Crosby’s comeback game for the Penguins last Monday night drew a 15.36 rating on Root Sports. That’s the second-highest rating for a regular-season game, behind the 15.9 rating for Mario Lemieux’s comeback game when he unretired in 2000.