The Har-Bowl did big business for the NFL.
NFL Network drew 10.7 million viewers for Thursday night’s 49ers-Ravens game, making it the most-watched program in the eight-year history of the league’s cable channel. The rating broke a record for NFL Network set in 2009, when 10.5 million viewers watched the Cowboys play the Saints.
It’s easy to see why the game drew big ratings: It featured two winning teams, it was close and competitive into the fourth quarter, and the Jim Harbaugh vs. John Harbaugh coaching battle made it an easy game to market to the folks who don’t automatically watch every NFL game and were considering — gasp! — turning off the TV and talking to their families on Thanksgiving night.
This year’s Thanksgiving night game drew about 50 percent more viewers than last year, when NFL Network got 7.1 million viewers for a Jets-Bengals game. Through three games this year NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football is averaging 7.5 million viewers a game, a 28 percent increase from the ratings in 2010.