Playing the Hall of Fame game on a Thursday night didn’t generate quite the same numbers as it did on a Sunday. But it still fared well, especially for a football game that doesn’t count.
The audience of 8.2 million for a game that featured no star players surpassed the 7.8 million who watched the NBA All-Star game earlier this year.
That said, it’s been better in the past. Via Austin Karp of SportsBusiness Daily, the overnight rating of 5.4 represents a sharp drop from the 6.9 generated in 2015 by a Vikings-Steelers matchup. In 2014, Giants-Bills cranked out a 5.8 and Cowboys-Dolphins in 2013 resulted in a 6.7.
In 2016, the game was canceled due to a paint-related field preparation blunder.
The Cardinals-Cowboys number was still the best rating for a weeknight NFL preseason game in six years, and it propelled NBC to a Thursday night win in primetime. All things considered, the jury remains out on whether the ratings issues from a year ago will linger in 2017.