Cowboys-Saints Game Draws Largest Ratings in ‘Thursday Night Football’ History

Cowboys linebackers Leighton Vander Esch, left, and Jaylon Smith had a blast on Thursday night. (Ron Jenkins/Associated Press)

There wasn’t much question about whether Thursday night’s Cowboys-Saints game would draw television viewers to Fox’s broadcast of the game. Dallas always gets eyeballs and was coming in hot while New Orleans has been both dominant and entertaining the season, and that perfect storm resulted in a 14.6 overnight television rating, the highest in the history of the “Thursday Night Football” franchise.

The previous high-water mark for “Thursday Night Football” in terms of overall viewership came in December 2016, when a Cowboys-Vikings game averaged 21.8 million viewers on NBC.

According to Sports Business Daily’s John Ourand, the Cowboys-Saints rating was up 36 percent from the comparable Thursday night game in 2017, Cowboys-Redskins on NBC. It also was Fox’s highest overnight rating for Fox this season and may be the network’s highest-rated game since last season’s NFC championship game.

Though NFL TV ratings have rebounded this year, numbers for the Thursday night package on Fox still were trending slightly downward entering the Cowboys-Saints game. That seems likely to change:

The game drew a 58.5 overnight rating in New Orleans, the highest in any market for an NFL game this year, according to Fox Sports’ Michael Mulvihill.

The rebound could be short-lived: The Week 14 Thursday night game features the lowly Jaguars and unexciting Titans.

SOURCE: The Washington Post, Matt Bonesteel