TV Ratings: NBC’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ Kicks Off Unsteady

Oriana Schwindt

NBC’s five-game “Thursday Night Football” NFL package began Thursday with a New Orleans Saints-Carolina Panthers match-up that delivered a 2.7 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic and 9.61 million viewers from 8:30-11 p.m., according to Nielsen’s preliminary ratings. The game didn’t end until 11:45 p.m. on the East Coast, meaning those ratings will likely adjust up in Nielsen’s final numbers. Pregame coverage drew a 2.1 demo rating and 7.43 million viewers. In overnight metered market ratings, the game drew a 9.3 household rating from 8:30-11:45 p.m.

That’s not a promising start. After improved ratings for “Sunday Night Football,” thanks to a dynamite Seahawks-Patriots game, there was a measure of hope that ratings for primetime games might be seeing a more general rebound. When on CBS, “Thursday Night Football” ratings were down 16% from the previous year, and Thursday’s game on NBC doesn’t seem to indicate a reversal of that trend. It may be worth noting that even with a few Super Bowl appearances between them, the Saints and the Panthers have historically not had the same national TV appeal as teams like the Patriots, Steelers, Cowboys, Seahawks, and Packers.

Speaking of the Eye: CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” was back down slightly from last week, with a 3.1 in the demo and 14.21 million viewers. “The Great Indoors” ticked down to a 1.5 and 7.53 million viewers. “Mom” was slightly below its lead-in in the demo with a 1.4, but drew a slightly larger audience of 7.62 million. “Life in Pieces” followed with a 1.4 and 6.63 million viewers. “Pure Genius” stayed steady with a 0.9 in the demo and 5.63 million viewers.

ABC’s Thursday lineup rebounded somewhat from last week. “Grey’s Anatomy” came back up to a 2.1 in the demo and 8.01 million viewers. “Notorious” maintained with a 0.9 and 4.13 million viewers. The shocking death on “How to Get Away With Murder” drew a 1.4 and 4.94 million viewers.

On Fox, “Rosewood” pulled in its now customary 0.7 and 3.06 million viewers. “Pitch” matched that demo and came in with a 2.43 million viewers.

On The CW, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” (moving to Tuesdays in the new year) drew a 0.6 and 1.86 million viewers. “Supernatural” improved on that demo with a 0.7 and 1.79 million viewers.

As a reminder, most of these shows will see viewership gains of at least 50% once viewing within three and seven days is counted. But most of those gains won’t translate into the deliveries networks promise advertisers.

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