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While most people’s Thanksgiving plans involve some combination of food and family, there’s a sizeable chunk of the population that also works NFL football into that equation. And that’s actually never been more obvious than last night, when the game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers became the most watched primetime Thanksgiving game ever. Stuff that in your turkey and smoke it.
While the game was most certainly not a victory for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, it definitely was for the Bears and NBC. The game was watched by an average of 27.8 million people, and it now ranks as the second most-watched game in the ten-year history of NBC’s primetime Sunday Night Football. That’s pretty damned huge, even for a sports organization that has zero trouble finding viewers, and especially on a day when the early games both showcased undefeated teams. (Granted, those games were total routs, but still.)
There are definitely reasons why the Bears-Packers game held viewers’ attention. For one, it was a close game from the opening minutes, and the action relied heavily on both teams’ defenses keeping opposing offenses from doing much. The Packers rebounded last week after losing three in a row, but that positive movement wasn’t enough to get them over Jay Cutler and their longtime division rivals – it was the 191st time the teams played each other.
As well, the halftime special wasn’t a musical performance like it was in the early games, but rather the Packers organization retiring future hall-of-famer Brett Favre’s jersey number. It came complete with an appearance from Bart Starr, the legendary Packers quarterback that served as the MVP for the first two Super Bowls. That halftime segment actually averaged 28.2 million people, if you can believe it. And if you watched Favre’s career with as much adoration as I did, you can easily believe it.
Let’s not forget that it was also Thanksgiving, a night where most networks avoid airing first-run episodes of hit series. So that audience wasn’t broken up by people trying to watch ABC’s Shonda Rhimes lineup or CBS’ The Big Bang Theory. Still, it brought in 21% more viewers than last year’s match-up between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers.
If you happened to miss the game last night, then you probably didn’t hear Rodgers shout out an F-bomb after a muffed snap. Check out that NSFW clip below.
Now we’ll just wait for the Super Bowl to get here and draw even bigger ratings for the NFL. Football!