The NFL Had Its Highest Thanksgiving Ratings Since 1998

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  • The NFL's 2021 Thanksgiving Day games attracted an average of 29.7 million viewers and highlighted by the Dallas Cowboys loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. That game attracted an average of 38.3 million viewers.

America loves football on Thanksgiving, and the National Football League remains the beneficiary.

The NFL said its Thanksgiving games had the most viewers since 1998, highlighted by the Dallas Cowboys playing the Las Vegas Raiders.

CBS aired the late-afternoon game that featured the Cowboys falling to the Raiders in overtime, 36-33. The NFL said the contest averaged 38.3 million viewers across TV and streaming.

It was the most-watched NFL regular-season game since December 1990, when the New York Giants played the San Francisco 49ers. That game featured star quarterbacks Phil Simms and Joe Montana and averaged 41.5 million viewers.

Fox Sports aired the early Thanksgiving Day game that saw the Chicago Bears beat the Detroit Lions, 16-14. The contest averaged 26.7 million viewers. And NBC, which shares a parent company with CNBC, aired the evening game between the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans, which averaged 19.9 million viewers.

Overall, the NFL's three Thanksgiving Day games averaged 29.7 million viewers on CBS, Fox, and NBCUniversal. The NFL noted the trio of games were the most watched since the 1998 season, and viewers consumed a record-high 17.1 billion live minutes of the 2021 Thanksgiving Day games.

The 2021 viewership average is also up 9% from last year's Thanksgiving games, which averaged 27.1 million viewers between two contests. The third scheduled game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed last year due to Covid.

The 2019 Thanksgiving Day games averaged 27.4 million viewers.

The NFL said 2021 games were averaging 16.4 million viewers across TV and streaming platforms through Week 10.

The Cowboys have now been featured in four of the league's top most-watched games. They include the season-opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which averaged 24.8 million viewers; the team's Week 2 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, averaging 24.3 million viewers; and the Week 6 win over the New England Patriots, which attracted an average of 23.2 million viewers.

Disclosure: NBC and CNBC are both owned by NBCUniversal.

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