The Thanksgiving NFL slate provided a feast for the league and its TV partners, with both afternoon games setting ratings records. NBC also got big numbers with its primetime game, and hit a multi-year high earlier in the day with its annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade telecast.
Fox’s late afternoon NFL telecast of the Dallas Cowboys’ win over the New York Giants recorded 42.06 million viewers on the network, making it the most watched regular season game on record (total viewer figures date back to 1988). It surpasses a December 1990 matchup between the Giants and San Francisco 49ers that drew just under 41.5 million viewers — with the caveat that out of home viewing which wasn’t measured in 1990, made up a significant portion of Thursday’s audience.
CBS’ early afternoon matchup, a last-minute Buffalo Bills win over the Detroit Lions, averaged 31.78 million viewers, the highest tally on record for the early Thanksgiving game. In primetime, the Minnesota Vikings-New England Patriots matchup brought in about 26 million viewers across all platforms — 24.78 million on NBC — making it the second biggest Thanksgiving primetime game ever (the 2015 contest averaged 27.8 million).
NBC’s live broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday morning delivered 22.3 million viewers across all platforms, up slightly from 22.05 million a year ago. An encore showing on the network and streaming on Peacock and other digital platforms brought the total to 27.7 million viewers, which is a five-year, cross-platform high.
Nov. 29, 8 a.m. Updated with final audience numbers.