UPDATED, 12:55 PM: It may have been the matchup, it may have been the drama in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 34-27 win over the Green Bay Packers, or it may have been all of the above. Regardless, the debut of Thursday Night Football this season on Fox was a rocket-fueled lift-off for the network as Premiere Week started to wind down.
Snagging 17.7 million viewers on the Charlie Collier-run outlet and the NFL Network, the start of the second season of TNF on Fox was up 22% over last year’s inaugural cycle opener.
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The best of any TNF that Fox has had (with the exception of the 22.2 million who tuned in for last season’s Week 13 New Orleans Saints-Dallas Cowboys game), the audience total goes up to 18.6 million when Amazon Prime and other digital platforms are factored in. Continuing the double-digit uptick, that’s 23% better than the total platform result of that 2018-2019 TNF season opener.
PREVIOUSLY, 6:20 AM: Having a debut or two and the return of the last season of Empire now out of the way this Premiere Week, Fox unleashed its gridiron muscle last night with the Philadelphia Eagles clipping the Green Bay Packers on the season premiere of Thursday Night Football.
In a much need win for the Super Bowl LII champions, the team from the City of Brotherly Love sent Aaron Rodgers and crew on their way 34-27. With three touchdowns by running back Jordan Howard allowing the Eagles to soar enough to stay ahead of the Packers at Lambeau Field, the first NFL game to be broadcast in ultra high-definition was certainly something to see — unless you have Dish, in which case you didn’t see a thing thanks to the ongoing carriage dispute.
Simulcast on NFL Network and Amazon Prime, last night was also a matchup to bring out some of the worst and best of the game, with the Eagles’ Avonte Maddox and the Packers’ Jamaal Williams both taken off on stretchers as their fellow players offered respect and support to their fallen friends – respect and support that also came from out the stunned stadium:
Praying for Avonte Maddox 🙏🏾
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) September 27, 2019
For Fox, sports are a major pillar in their new network approach following the now finalized $71.3 billion sale of many assets to Disney earlier this year. And in that vein and with Fox dark in 17 markets due to the DISH dust-up, last night’s Eagles win was a double-digit victory by any other name.
The primetime battle scored a 12.6/23 in metered market results as rivals CBS and NBC saw the beginning of Evil and Perfect Harmony and a slew of series back for their latest season. Which means, several weeks now into a 100th NFL season that started ratings strong, the kick-off of the second full season of TNF on the Murdoch-owned net was up nicely over last year.
The first round of ratings have last night’s hard hitting match-up actually rising 18% from the Los Angeles Rams’ 38-31 winning over the Minnesota Viking on September 27, 2018.
Those early metrics saw last season’s Super Bowl contending Rams win go on to get 14.5 million viewers on Fox and the NFL Network in the final TNF numbers. The successor to previous seasons of less than stellar ratings, that was a sweet win of a different sort for the five-year and $3 billion bet that the Murdochs put on NFL action early last year for what was then being bandied about as New Fox.
In fact, last night’s TNF was the best opener the late week franchise has had since 2015 in metered market returns.
Clearly it is early in the 11 weeks of TNF that Fox have this season, but the results of last night’s game certainly is a good omen for that venture – especially with the net airing Super Bowl LIV in February 2, 2020, from Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.
With that, we’ll update this year’s TNF premiere plus the moves on the rest of the Big 4 and the CW as more numbers come.