We know what CBS is thankful for at the moment. Last week’s Thanksgiving Day football game, the Las Vegas Raiders vs. the Dallas Cowboys, is now the most-watched NFL regular-season game since 1993.
With final Nielsen figures in from last Thursday, Raiders-Cowboys scored an average audience of 37.844 million total viewers. That’s the most since the Miami Dolphins visited Dallas on Nov. 25, 1993, when the game averaged 38.406 million total viewers.
Raiders-Cowboys was a nail-biter stuffed with plenty of offense. Ultimately, the Raiders won on the road in overtime, 36-33. Both quarterbacks — Derek Carr of the Raiders and Dak Prescott of the Cowboys — threw for more than 370 yards and no interceptions. Each QB had two wide receivers run over 100 yards.
The Cowboys lost a close one back on Thanksgiving Day 1993 as well, when the Dolphins mounted a second-half comeback to win 16-14. That game, which happened during a rare snowstorm in Texas, is famous (or infamous if you’re a Cowboys fan) for this Leon Lett play.
As for the other two football games, the early game on Fox between the winless the Detroit Lions and the not-much-better Chicago Bears drew 26.7 million viewers, up 14% from the early game last year, which aired on CBS. The Bears beat the Lions on a last-second field goal to win 16-14 and keep new Lions coach Dan Campbell still searching for his first NFL win.
NBC’s nightcap between the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints drew 19.4 million viewers on TV and a total audience delivery of 19.9 million. The game was a one-sided affair that the Bills dominated 31-6. Maybe the Saints had too much turkey beforehand. It was still better than last year, when there was no primetime game due to a COVID outbreak among the Baltimore Ravens, which postponed their games (twice) against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pro football wasn’t the only telecast grabbing major eyeballs on the holiday. NBC’s Thanksgiving Day Parade drew 21 million total viewers last week.