Thursday Night Football draws eight million

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There was no press release touting the record-low eight-million-person audience generated by Monday night’s Falcons-Saints game on ESPN, which did battle with the first presidential debate. Thursday night’s Dolphins-Bengals game drew a similar audience, and it’s reason for at least a little crowing.

The league has announced that the NFL Network-only game generated a 4.76 household rating and an audience of eight million on all platforms, TV and digital. According to the league, it’s a six-percent increase over the ratings and audiences for last year’s NFLN-only games.

So how does it compare to 2015? For the first time this year, an apples-to-apples look isn’t feasible, because last year’s Week Four games on Thursday night appeared on CBS and NFLN. The Ravens-Steelers game drew a whopping 19.4 million viewers.

This year, the exclusive NFLN games are interspersed among the full schedule; in past years, the NFLN-only games came later in the year.

That dynamic alone would contribute to the lower total numbers for games that were exclusive to the league-owned network, since more of the game involve teams that aren’t vying for postseason positioning.

Next week, Thursday Night Football returns to CBS and NFL Network, along with Twitter. The numbers generated by Cardinals-49ers will be compared to last year’s Week 5 Thursday nighter between the Colts and Texans.

98 responses to “Thursday Night Football draws eight million

  1. The NFL has become one big turnoff.

    From the players “demonstrating” to the constant rule changes, bad officiating and those stupid color rush uniforms, it’s no wonder the numbers are down.

  2. It was a horrible contest. The Bengals are a mediocre team with a single elite WR and the Dolphins are a bad team decimated with injury to the point that they wore NCAA FCS uniforms and played like it too. Simply put, that was not a professional product worthy of anyone’s time. I say this as a loyal (but sad) lifelong Dolphins Fan.

  3. @joetoronto

    You pretty well nailed it. For me, everything you said plus all of the Goodell drama.

    The NFL just isn’t as attractive to me anymore.

  4. I really don’t understand people who seem to not like football commenting on a football new site?????

    I would never go to a professional bowling site and complain about the shirts they wear and how i’m mad they changed the thickness of the red stripe on the pins and how the fans that blow the sweat off your hands are not environmentally friendly.

    I wonder if they have Tebow articles on those sites

  5. When you have football on 5 out of 7 nights a week during the season, what do you expect?
    Thankfully no more Dolphins in prime time, hopefully forever, it was beyond awful, Went to HGTV, property brothers are awesome.

  6. Between the awful matchup, the REALLY awful uniforms, and not knowing which martyr is going to raise a fist or take a knee next, people are turning off the NFL in droves. The reasons are obvious.

  7. joetoronto says:
    Sep 30, 2016 4:53 PM

    The NFL has become one big turnoff.

    From the players “demonstrating” to the constant rule changes, bad officiating and those stupid color rush uniforms, it’s no wonder the numbers are down.


    There was no reason for anyone to post after joetoronto……

  8. funny my brother texted me last night. He skips the national anthem now because the media seems to like showing that one guy who isn’t standing. You know when he shut it off was when Still caught his TD and the showed him kneeling during the anthem. You can’t get away form it. So be it if the media wants to kill the golden goose let them. Oh for the Goodell haters he was there to when the ratings were at an all time high so you can blame him without giving him credit

  9. They changed the thickness of the red stripe on the pins? That does it for me.

    Fans blow the sweat off of bowlers hands? Everyone has their freak, I guess.

  10. 100+ commercials and a few minutes of disfunctional action. Hmmmm….why would America opt for other forms of entertainment?
    PS…If I wanted to watch celebs hate on America, I’d tune into MSNBC

  11. NFL’s biggest problem: Dull games like last night and WTH happened to Suh since he signed his mega deal? You barely heard his name last night.

  12. Are people really turned off by what the players are doing during the national anthem? Seriously, who cares? Any more than I care what my neighbor’s feelings on patriotism or various racial issues are, I don’t care what Kap or any other player thinks either. If they want to pinwheel wildly around the field wearing a dress during the anthem, have fun. Put out a good effort during the game, that’s all I care about, and that’s all I’m watching for.

  13. They’re watching baseball. It’s the last week of the baseball season and half of the teams still have a chance for the playoffs. This is the time of year that a lot people actually start watching baseball and claim they have been watching all season.

    Get rid of Thursday night NFL games. The players hate it and the fans don’t really care. Just have an east coast Sunday night game and a west coast Sunday night game.

  14. Who, other than those in South Florida and Western Ohio, want to watch the Dolphins vs Bengals? Even on Sunday? Would you like to know why Monday and Thursday nights are down? Because the owners promised prime games to NBC for Sunday night and gave CBS/FOX veto power for pulling their marquee games from Sunday afternoons. Plus, they have each team on primetime at least once.

    Want to see higher viewership during the week? Please see below, in no particular order (if/when they play):

    Steelers vs Bengals
    Steelers vs Ravens
    Steelers vs Patriots
    Patriots vs Broncos
    Cowboys vs Giants
    Cowboys vs Packers
    Raiders vs Broncos
    Seahawks vs Cardinals

    I typically won’t watch games other than the Raiders, but if there’s a compelling game, I’ll watch it. But I won’t sit through 1 minute of Miami vs Cincinnati.

  15. Totally agree with psubeerman21.

    A player kneeling during the anthem or otherwise exercising their first amendment right doesn’t mean any more or less to me than someone wearing a Cheesehead at a Packer game.

    What I do care about is that the product I am trying to watch is decent, entertaining and worth my time, and that has generally not been the case in these Thursday night games.

  16. Why is it losing viewers? Terrible refereeing. Each game you get one of the following: too many calls ruining the flow of the game, not enough calls with questionable play everywhere or unequally enforced penalties.

    I know everyone grips about the officials, but it seems like since Goodell took over they have become noticeably worse, and every Monday it seems like there’s at least a handful of egregious calls that becomes a topic that drowns out the rest of the weekend’s storylines.

  17. This has been brewing for the past few years. The league is slowly dying. In each of the past few years, I’ve watched the least amount of football in my entire life.

    joetoronto pretty much hit most of the points why I don’t watch much anymore. The politics that have been brought into the sport, the constant rule changes, refs always conferencing and trying to pitch a perfect game, long replay reviews, the constant news about the players off the field, suspensions, high amounts of injuries, etc have turned the league into a mess.

    In fact, I think fantasy football is mostly keeping the league alive at this point. Without it, I can’t even imagine what the viewership ratings would look like. Scary thought.

  18. raiderinva says:
    Sep 30, 2016 5:20 PM

    There was no reason for anyone to post after joetoronto……

    Then why did you?

  19. 8 million more people who now know The sad state of the Miami Dolphins,I’ve stubbertly stood up for Ryan Tannerhill for the past four years and have suddenly realized his time is up. He is not a franchise quarterback ,he’s an average game manager at best

  20. Really, stop the BS. GET THIS TANNEHILL OUT OF TOWN ASAP, he can be a nice guy somewhere else. Miami needs a WINNER and a LEADER, this guy has lost the team. It starts with him, and of course to morons who call themselves football people in the front office, who wouldn’t know talent if it sat on their faces.

    Until them this team will continue to go nowhere, and I will bet any money you want to bet.

  21. over saturation… and up here in the North, it’s still to nice to sit and watch a game from start to finish…

  22. If the cap stops rising year after year, a few teams are going to be hurting bad and having to cut other players.

  23. Sunday night football is the only must see game of the week. MNF has gone to crap since ESPN took over. Thursday night football has the worst match ups imaginable. Do away with it please.

  24. The correct way to enjoy NFL games is by DVRing them and watching them a few hours later, with the fast advance for commercials and in between plays.

  25. It was an easy choice. Watch two nitwits battle each other, or watch 2 teams filled with nitwits battle each other.
    I chose the latter, but I was in the minority.
    But let’s be honest — Goodell and the drugged up criminal players are ruining the NFL and the ratings are falling like Kaepernick’s fan base.
    I have been a staunch NFL fan since 1960 but I rarely make it through an entire game anymore. I can’t stand the me-me players, the replay system sucks because they still can’t figure out how to get it right, and half the announcers are loud mouths who are just there to promote themselves.

  26. I keep writing that ” there is no cure for stupid “then to take the cake I watch a dolphin push down the punter and drew a penalty, then I watch the special team coach almost have a stroke, hopefully the fish will have some more in service for the cure for the ones who have loss there way on the FB field. As for the Dolphins I see better things ahead, at least they won’t lose this week-end. Bill

  27. Well the game may have been bad, but clearly you can see a trend this year…..people are tuning out!

    The reality is people watch football to get away from life and the problems they deal with on a weekly basis, paying bills, going to work, and everything else!

    No one wants politics and entertainment mixed, they pay and watch to get away from that!

  28. Some of you losing interest should give Hockey a try……non stop action on the ice and they don’t throw flags for every little hit and believe me….. some of the hits are brutal:)It’s a fast paced sport and once you understand the rules,some of you will be hooked.

  29. I love football but I fear it’s jumped the shark at least in the NFL. As a kid I knew every rule and it wasn’t a chore keeping up with them either. Now, even when there’s a perfect replay of the play in question it’s a coin flip on what the call will be. Throw in the million ways greed is destroying the product and all the concussion issues and you’ve got a game in decline.

  30. Some of you losing interest should give Hockey a try

    Word to that. It’s incredibly refreshing to turn on a hockey game with 5 minutes to play and have the game be complete in under 10 minutes real time while the 2-minute drill in the NFL means you still have time for a bathroom break and 2 more beers without missing a single play.

  31. Just have to mention – I just loved those uniforms.

    So creative and nice looking.

    I wonder what third grader designed them?

    Seriously – they were as bad as the all Red and Green uniforms the Bills and Jets used last year. I don’t know anything about matching clothing design and patterns, but I think I could come up with something better if you gave me 15 minutes.

  32. I will tell you why the ratings and viewing is down. Folks like to use football as recreation and entertainment, not a reminder of a troubled world and all the political BS that is out there. But this year, players have decided to start using their time on camera not as much for football and showcasing their athletic skills as much as their protest skills. If I want do deal with social and political issues, I can just stay at work. If I want something that reminds me how AFU things are today, I can watch the 24/7 news channels. And now the sports talk shows have joined in, especially BSPN, etc. No thanks.

  33. NFL Football used to be distinctly American. Now Americans (football players and fans) distinctly use football to protest America. Just because disrespecting our flag is one’s right doesn’t make it right. And it sucks to turn on the TV and see the networks show us all that. Or we can pay up to $450 per ticket and go the stadium and see it live.

  34. If the mainstream media ignored the anthem protest, no one would know about it. And it would be pointless for the players to continue the protest.

  35. I absolutely love the game, but I don’t love watching a bunch of overpaid yet mostly ignorant protestors give a 100% effort to protest their country during our national anthem and then give a 50% effort doing what I tuned in to see them do.

  36. It seems like everyone has there own theory on what’s wrong and that in and of it’s self is an issue. Too many loose threads that lend towards people caring less.

  37. getitrightflorio says:
    Sep 30, 2016 6:13 PM
    Why put the Dolphins on prime time, WHY

    Because every team plays a Thursday game.

  38. It’s over-saturation.
    In the NFLs heyday, there was only one prime time game. It was an event.
    Now, it’s a waste of time. The match-ups are weak.
    The NFL is jumping the shark as we speak. Seriously.
    In ten years nobody will remember.

  39. I have to ask, which marketing idiot came up with the color rush nonsense, and which other idiot approved it for this year?
    It’s absolutely the stupidest thing I’ve seen in 45 years of being a fan. Some nitwit has to lose his job over it.

  40. The only solution to the awful Thursday night game is to go to an 18-week season with two bye weeks, and make sure one of the byes is right before the Thursday night game. However, that would require one of two things: starting the season on Labor Day weekend like they used to, which will upset the NCAA and because East Coast fans getting in their last beach weekend, lower ratings. Or, the Super Bowl will be mid-February. That will be great if the game is the night before President’s Day, but a massive problem if the game falls on Valentine’s Day. My wife won’t care, but there are a lot of games that will have issues with their lady if they wanted to watch the Super Bowl that night. (And of course the restaurant industry will be calling Goodell day, night, and weekend to prevent that from happening).

  41. psubeerman21 says:

    Are people really turned off by what the players are doing during the national anthem?

    Uh. Yes. Shocking that someone even has to ask that. We don’t want to watch a Black Panther rally before each kickoff. It’s a matter of principle.

  42. If Chuck Cunningham was such a useless/boring character, that he was written out of Happy Days after a few episodes, why would I want to watch his clone Quarterback the Bengals on a Thursday Night?

  43. joetoronto says:
    Sep 30, 2016 4:53 PM

    The NFL has become one big turnoff.

    From the players “demonstrating” to the constant rule changes, bad officiating and those stupid color rush uniforms, it’s no wonder the numbers are down.

    No doubt. It should have been called the Cincinnati Marshmallows vs. the Miami Cantaloupes.

  44. I’ve long been a hater of Thursday Night Football. Wish they got rid of it and did a Monday Night doubleheader every week like in week 1.

  45. Yeah, little Teabags, it’s the Players exercising free speech that you think only you should have.

    I can see it now, “Hey Bob. Let’s not watch football cause of them thar protests!’ No one believes that BS> Of COURSE you still watch. You may rail against the players that protest. You may not watch them protest, but no one believes that’s why people don’t watch. You just wanna shut those boys up!

    Why don’t we watch Thurs Night football or even on Monday anymore? Simple. Over saturation and the games sucks.

    Now go back to your echo chamber.

  46. Hey the NFL allowed Kaepernick to “start a conversation” that NFL fans see enough of during the week. Add the sports writers and the talking heads on TV pushing their social justice narrative, and people will tune out. The demographics of the NFL aren’t that of the NBA.

  47. thats a lot of sharpie pens!! what if it “drew” 12 million? anyway the officiating this year is awful..spotting the ball 1/2 yard short on a close play.. bs holding or interference…i am more convinced this crap is scripted just like wrestling.. and dont get me started on the player “protests” bunch of american hating pansies..i know it would bring the nfl to it’s knees, but i may not watch the early game from london..i mean good god.

  48. sgordon909usdm419 says:
    Sep 30, 2016 5:05 PM
    Last night was equivalent to putting the Pats vs Browns on. Nobody wants to watch that garbage.
    The Patriots – Browns game will get great ratings as Brady returns. Don’t kid yourself.

  49. Football was fun when the defense could actually play defense and they didn’t have to worry about the refs; hitting only a certain way, and essentially babying every QB.

    Great play! Oh wait. Was it a catch. Oh wait, red flag, oh wait, yellow flag of wait sometimes they pick up the yellow flag.

  50. Right now the NFL is just another entertainment medium, when it used to be a hometown thing, about heart and soul and FUN. So, when it becomes annoying, people just easily find something else to do. And with this protest thing, I think it was the last straw for a lot of people, just more evidence that the NFL has gotten too bloated and monstrous and greedy and full of itself.

    When the best players are gone, like Payton is….you’re just going to have a bunch of tattooed jackasses like Kapernick collecting big paychecks for a few years and fading away until another one takes his place, and coaching being hired and fired every few years too.

    Football is not supposed to be about “fantasy” stats, or about free agency and and players chasing a paycheck and constantly moving in free agency. Look at Suh. We brought him in…and now he’s on vacation. Nobody we pick up in FA makes a difference because it’s just about money now.

    There’s too many flags during the game and no one knows what the rules are anymore. Is it a catch, is it fumble, is it a good hit or an illegal hit. And everyone ends up in the playoffs, even if your team is not that great, it’s so easy to get in now.

    And of course finally there’s the cost, and the time commitment. And to use our time like someone else said and can’t even relax and have to listen to politics and political statements at the same time, whether it’s during pregame, halftime show, post game or during the anthem, becomes not enjoyable, not escapist and a waste of time.

    I didn’t even watch the second half of the game Thursday, and I’m not clicking on any of my usual football sites a and blogs, out of fatigue and disinterest, really.

  51. Would have watched if it was on CBS. Didn’t feel like logging on to Sling on the computer to watch. Game was not that important to me.

  52. Thursday games are bad enough but now they are pretending to play vanilla pre-season ball while wearing ugly winter jammies. It would not surprise me if they roll out there with the snapped buttflap longjohns ike the old western movie cowboys wore to bed.

  53. The upward trend in RBBC over the last few years is more likely. Look out for a rule change in less than 3 seasons

  54. @ gratefulgecko agreed!

    In Florida football has been bad for so long that it has become a has been. Football hasn’t been relevant in Florida for 10 years.

    I hate that Sunday night football has become a political platform for Bob Costas and the same 4 teams every week but at least the pats, steelers, ravens and manning played good football.

  55. Move the game from Thursday Night to Saturday Night, the NFL already competes with College Football. Put it on CBS on Saturday Night after the SEC Game of the Week and the play will be good because the players will have more rest and it’ll have a good lead-in for the product. Besides the Jets/Bills game, these games will be blow-outs as the visiting team is going to be exhausted. Move it to Saturday Night and they have a better fighting chance.

  56. The NFL is killing it’s own product with commercials and bad officiating.

    Not everyone wants to sit thru 3 hours to see an hours worth of football. Between a mediocre team and a bad team to boot.

  57. Does everyone not realize the point of the article is that the TNF ratings were UP from equivalent games a year ago? With 2 trash teams in a boring, noncompetitive game?

    I do think the protests are having an impact on ratings. (I don’t care. The players have a right to use their platform to voice their opinion and the fans have a right to base their viewing accordingly.)

    I also think the NFL’s other, long term problems are becoming more pronounced now that people have a reason to walk away.

    I actually agree with the protests and I’ve watched less football this year, too. Sometimes it’s a perfect storm; the protests, the product, and the times, all legit, and all working against the NFL.

  58. Want to looked at protest, turn on the tube, its every where, the league should ban any protest that they don’t approve, if the players don’t like it, just like the rest of us, go find another job that will let you harm there bottom, line. Bill….but he has a message, great! let him buy air time and protest all he wants to on his Dime, put the money where his knee is.

  59. namingrights says:
    Sep 30, 2016 5:06 PM
    I really don’t understand people who seem to not like football commenting on a football new site?????

    The only thing more perplexing than that is number of people who comment based upon the headline without reading the article.

    Half the comments on here give their reasons why the ratings are so low when in fact the point of the article was that Thursday night’s rating was 6% higher than the games that were NFL Network only last season. It points out correctly that last year’s week 4 game got a higher rating due to it being simulcast on NBC.

    Reading comprehension not a barrier to entry on this site, apparently.

  60. Well either people did like me and went out to buy a box of Orange Sherbert ice cream (I wonder why I had a sudden craving for it)?
    OR People wanted to see the “Dog and Pony (er’ Jackass) show”

  61. The NFL has hit its market saturation. Regular people have to get up and go to work everyday and have to decide which games not to watch since they are now so frequent. So it should not be difficult for the NFL to plan their games accordingly. Having a bottom feeder team playing on the road against a playoff team is not a recipe for viewership. Not to mention the fact that people need to give the liver a break once in awhile.

  62. Thursday night football is horrible. Most of the times it is a step up from a preseason game. Football on Sundays is a destination event. Whether you are watching at home, going to a bar, or going to the game itself. Thursday games suck bc it takes you away from looking forward to Sunday. I know its all about greed but the product is being watered down with 3 prime time games a week now.

  63. Politics, fake patriotism, and did I mention politics ? C0nstant chatter about inane garbage. We have already selected sleep over Monday or Thursday night offerings. It’s three years since we sold our season game tickets, and don’t miss the ” NFL Experience ” at all. Just this year we have watched three really good Collage games, hopefully with more to come, we just tune in slightly after the games start to eliminate the fake patriotic rhetoric. The NFL just offends people. We walked away from baseball after the strike, and haven’t missed it at all, but that’s just us. Folks can do as they please.

  64. Greedy billionaires want to expand the league globally but can’t even figure out that the modern schedule is hurting their game right here at home. TNF is a dismal failure and it needs to end after this season. #Cubanwasright

  65. I did watch the Dolphin/Bengals game on Thursday. Being a Fins fan of course I was disappointed but I will probably not be watching NFL football again for the rest of the year NOT because of my blood pressure from the team’s poor play but because of the incessant, repetitive ads I had to endure.

    My wife and I had to laugh as the lemonade, soccer car, and work out bicycle ads just rotated from one to the other. How do they expect to hold one’s interest? Plus I would never buy an annoying product.

    Anyways, not I can spend more time at the beach on NFL football events as I live in sunny south Florida. Bye Bye NFL football—it was great while it lasted.

    Also I won’t have to endure:

    disrespectful, rich players kneeling during the anthem (wake up NFL!!)
    unending instant replays breaking up the tempo of the game
    cupcake pretty women on the sideline commenting on “getting your bell rung” (yea OK!!)

  66. Kinda ironic that of all the PFT Stories this is one that almost every fan agreed upon. The NFL needs to understand we are the customer and dictate their success; not the other way around.

    Sidenote: to the one Lions fans who always comes to any Dolphins related article and makes a negative comment about Suh (sour grapes).

    Quoted From PFF “Suh graded out well in run defense and adding three more tackles and stops giving him a total of 17 tackles and 14 stops in run defense for the year. That is tops for all nose tackles and defensive tackles in the league.”

  67. Why are ratings down? Two main reasons:

    1. NFL = No Fun League. Comrade Goodell thinks twerking after a TD is worthy of fine. I suspect most fans would disagree. Would Goodell outlaw the Ickey Shuffle? So stupid. Let the boys have some fun after a TD. It works well in the CFL.

    2. Constant rule tampering. Every year it’s something else (extra point, kickoffs, catch definition, etc.). Leave the goddam game alone. It’s fine the way it is.

  68. The players un-American anthem antics are a turn off. I’ve sold my season tickets for this year and won’t be renewing next. The players have the right to demonstrate as they please just as I have the right to not financially support them. The game won’t exist in 20 years anyway because of injury cases & greedy lawyers. So, a good time to wave goodbye to the NFL.

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