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Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day victory over Giants scores a TV record

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott gestures during a football game against the New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott signals at the line of scrimmage during a game against the New York Giants on Nov. 24 in Arlington, Texas.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)
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The Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants Thanksgiving Day game drew the largest audience on record for an NFL regular-season game while Fox also set records for its World Cup and college football coverage.

The Cowboys’ 28-20 victory averaged 42 million viewers on Fox and Fox Sports streaming platforms, erasing the previous record of 41.55 million for the Dec. 3, 1990, ABC “Monday Night Football” game between the Giants and San Francisco 49ers, according to figures from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics released by Fox.

Average viewer record numbers date to 1988. Out-of-home viewing has been included in the viewership figures since September 2020.

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The U.S.-England World Cup game Friday averaged 15.38 million viewers on Fox and Fox Sports streaming platforms, the most ever for a men’s soccer game on English-language television, surpassing the previous record of 14.51 million for the 1994 World Cup final between Brazil and Italy.

The Brazil-Serbia World Cup game on Thanksgiving averaged 6.19 million viewers on Fox and Fox Sports streaming platforms, the most for a non-U.S. World Cup group stage game on English-language television.

Saturday’s Michigan-Ohio State game averaged 17 million viewers, the most for a regular-season college football game on Fox and the most for any regular-season college football game on any network since 2011.

The Thanksgiving night NFL game on NBC between the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots drew the largest audience for an NFL prime-time Thanksgiving game since the record-setting 2015 contest and was the most-watched prime-time program during the 10-week-old 2022-23 television season.

Minnesota’s 33-26 victory averaged 24.78 million viewers, the second-most for a prime-time Thanksgiving game, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Wednesday. The Chicago Bears’ 17-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the 2015 game averaged 27.75 million viewers.

The NFL has annually played a prime-time game every year on Thanksgiving since 2006, except in 2020 when coronavirus issues forced its postponement. NBC has carried the game since 2012. It had previously been carried by cable’s NFL Network.

The season’s previous high was 20.85 million for the Kansas City Chiefs’ 41-31 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” Oct. 2.

In a week with reduced original entertainment programming because of Thanksgiving, each of the top eight prime-time programs were NFL games, pregame shows or postgame shows.

“Yellowstone” was the highest rated non-sports program for the second time in the three weeks its fifth season has been aired and led entertainment programs for the third time, averaging a combined 9.15 million viewers on Paramount Network and CMT.

With CBS airing a rerun of “Young Sheldon” for the second consecutive week, “The Neighborhood” was the top-ranked comedy for the second consecutive week and third time this season, averaging 5.70 million viewers, 23rd for the week and 10th among non-sports programs.

The CBS police procedural “East New York” was the most popular new series for the fifth time in its nine episodes, averaging 4.99 million viewers, 26th for the week and 13th among non-sports programs.

The CBS crime drama “FBI: Most Wanted” led programs beginning at 10 p.m., averaging 5.11 million viewers, 25th for the week and 12th among non-sports programs.

The combination of the Thanksgiving night NFL game and “Sunday Night Football” put NBC in first place among networks for the eighth time in the season, averaging 8.16 million viewers between Nov. 21 and Sunday, its season high.

The only weeks NBC did not win this season came when Fox aired coverage of the World Series.

NBC’s biggest audience for a non-NFL program was for the Tuesday edition of the singing competition “The Voice,” 18th for the week and seventh among non-sports programs.

CBS finished second, averaging 4.08 million viewers. Fox was third, averaging 3.41 million viewers. ABC was fourth, averaging 3.35 million.

“60 Minutes” was CBS’ ratings leader, 11th for the week and second among non-sports programs, averaging 9.03 million viewers, its sixth-largest audience among its 11 editions for the season.

Fox’s highest-rated non-sports program was “The Masked Singer,” which averaged 7.86 million viewers following the Thanksgiving Day postgame show, 12th for the week and third among non-sports programs.

ABC’s top ranked program was Friday’s Florida-Florida State football game, 15th for the week, averaging 6.71 million viewers.

The CW averaged 380,000 viewers. Its biggest draw was the 2000 animated special “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” which averaged 520,000 viewers, 175th among broadcast programming. Its overall ranking was not available.

The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of three NFL games, five NFL pregame shows, two NFL postgame shows, “Yellowstone,” “60 Minutes,” three CBS scripted programs, both episodes of the NBC singing competition “The Voice,” Fox’s “The Masked Singer,” and two college football games on ABC.

The cable rankings were topped by the Nov. 21 broadcast of the San Francisco 49ers’ 38-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” which averaged 11.17 million viewers, sixth for the week.

“Monday Night Football” and two nights of college football gave ESPN the top spot among cable networks for the fourth time in five weeks, seventh time in nine weeks and 10th time in 13 weeks, averaging 2.99 million viewers. Hallmark Channel was second, averaging 1.71 million viewers and Fox News Channel third, averaging 1.64 million viewers.

Paramount Network was the other cable network to average more than 1 million viewers for its prime-time programming, averaging 1.24 million viewers.

The cable top 20 consisted of “Monday Night Football” and its 15-minute kickoff show; two episodes of “Yellowstone”; four Hallmark Channel movies; the second episode of the Paramount+ Sylvester Stallone-starring crime drama “Tulsa King,” which aired on Paramount Network; three college football games on ESPN; seven Fox News Channel weeknight political talk shows (three broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and one of “The Ingraham Angle”); and History’s long-running chronicle of a search for treasure on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island.”

A Netflix record was set by “Wednesday,” with viewers spending 341.23 million hours watching the eight episodes of the supernatural-infused mystery charting Wednesday Addams’ years at Nevermore Academy in the first five days they were available, the most hours viewed in a week for an English-language television series on the streaming service.

“Slumberland” was Netflix’s most-streamed movie, with viewers watching the fantasy adventure for 45.43 million hours in its first full week of release, 36.14% more than the 33.37 million hours watched the previous week when it was available for three days.


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