TV ratings: ‘Thursday Night Football’ tackles ‘Biggest Loser’ debut

Steve Smith, Cortez Allen
Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith misses a touchdown pass in front of Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen during their game in Baltimore on Sept. 11.
(Patrick Smith / Getty Images)

Final ratings for the debut of CBS’ “Thursday Night Football” won’t be out until later, but it clearly had an impact on rival NBC’s season premiere of “The Biggest Loser.”

The weight-loss-competition reality show’s 16th season opened with 5.4 million total viewers on average, lower than last year’s fall debut by about 25%, according to early numbers from Nielsen.

Among 18-to-49-year-old viewers, the category most prized by advertisers, the show scored a rating of 1.6, down 30% from last season’s number.

In 2013, “Biggest Loser” premiered without competition from the National Football League. This season’s opener also aired five weeks earlier than last season, which likely also depressed viewership.


“Biggest Loser” did hold the distinction of being the highest-rated non-sports network show of the night.

As for Thursday night’s pigskin proceedings, the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers unsurprisingly did much better than last year’s Thursday opener, according to preliminary Nielsens.

Going by overnight numbers for Nielsen’s 56 metered-market households, the Ravens’ landslide victory on CBS and the NFL Network earned a rating of 13.7, twice the size of last year’s comparable game that aired on the NFL Network.

For comparison, NBC’s coverage of Sunday night’s contest between the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos pulled a 15.1 overnight rating.


An average of 15.9 million people watched the game in prime time, according to the early Nielsens, which are not adjusted for time zones.

That big viewership increase isn’t coming cheap for CBS, which agreed to pay about $275 million for rights to seven Thursday games in the fall and one game on a Saturday night in December.

Elsewhere on the major broadcast networks, it was slim pickings. NBC followed “Biggest Loser” with a news special on the “Secret Life of Pets” that earned a 1.0 in the 18-49 demographic. ABC’s “The Quest” closed out the season with a meager 0.5 rating in the key demo.

Fox and the CW aired only reruns.

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder