Rupert Murdoch and his now New Fox put more than $3 billion on the field for five years of Thursday Night Football earlier this year, and it looks like that bet has paid off if last night’s opening game is an indication.
Showcasing the surging Los Angeles Rams who stayed unbeaten last night with a 38-31 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Fox was helped by a good gridiron matchup, unlike many a tepid Thursday game on CBS or NBC over the past few years.
For one thing, Rams quarterback Jared Goff was absolutely crushing it, and the Rams’ once-struggling defense wasn’t letting anyone crush them. Or to put it another way:
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 28, 2018
Countering the usual trend of pro football on the Big 4 the past few years, the result was an 8:30 PM ET-starting game that delivered a 10.7/19 in metered market ratings for the Fox and the NFL Network, according to Nielsen. Sidestepping the national anthem protests that caused such controversy last season, that’s up a steady 8% over last year’s TNF opener, which saw the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 35-14 on CBS and NFL Network.
Delayed nearly an hour because of weather, that September 28, 2017 game was down 13% from the 2016 TNF kickoff on the network and the league’s cable outlet. Like last year, last night’s TNF was also live streamed on Amazon’s Prime Video, which had about 488,000 viewers.
Overall, with an almost full slate of counterprogramming on other nets, CBS and NFL Network had an audience of 14.6 million tuning in to see the Packers’ relatively easy TNF win on that fall 2017 night. Similar to last year, last night’s primetime had a Grey’s Anatomy season premiere and a blast-from-the-past premiere in CBS’ Murphy Brown revival complete with a Hillary Clinton cameo.
We’ll update with more TNF numbers as we get them, along with the results for the return of the Shonda Rhimes medical drama, the Candice Bergen-led sitcom, The Good Place and more.
In the meantime, another stat to ponder: last night’s 2018-2019 TNF season opener on Fox was up 11% on average from the metered market results CBS and NBC had last year. Being that 11 is the number of TNF games New Fox has this season in conjunction with NFL Network, that could be the magic number for the Murdochs.