Football Dominates Thanksgiving, With A Side Of Basketball

Thanksgiving Day delivered enormous sports viewership in addition to the heaping food portions.

To start the day, the Green Bay Packers’ 29-22 upset road win over the Detroit Lions on Fox checked in 33.7 million average viewers — the most for a Thanksgiving Day early window on record and a 6% increase from last season’s Bills-Lions matchup.

Next, the Dallas Cowboys’ blowout victory over the Washington Commanders on CBS averaged 41.8 million viewers, according to updated numbers, to make it the second-most-watched NFL regular season game ever; CBS had previously reported an average of 41.4 million viewers, which made it the third-most-watched regular season game on record.

Finally, the primetime matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks averaged 26.9 million viewers across all of NBC’s platforms, which include linear, streaming, and Spanish-language, ranking only behind 2015’s Bears-Packers game (27.8M) as the most-watched Thanksgiving primetime contest. The 2023 edition averaged 24.8 million viewers on linear NBC, per SportsMediaWatch.

Football was not the only sport people watched on Thanksgiving… far from it.

Following the Packers-Lions game, the Michigan State vs. Arizona men’s college basketball game attracted 5.2 million average viewers — the most-watched college basketball game ever on Fox and the most-watched regular-season college basketball game on any network since 2008.

After that, women’s college basketball took centerstage, with Tennessee vs. Indiana averaging 1.1 million viewers — the most on any network this season and the most for any women’s college basketball game on Fox ever as well.

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