Executives at NFL Network can give thanks for the Nielsen performance of Thursday Night Football on Turkey Day.
The New York Jets' 26-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 25 averaged 7.1 million watchers, the most for NFL Network on the five years it has televised a game on Thanksgiving, according to Nielsen data, and third biggest audience overall. (The total doesn't include watchers on over-the-air stations in the New York and Cincinnati DMAs.)
Gauged against the Thanksgiving 2009 game between the Denver Broncos-New York Giants that averaged 6.1 million watchers, last night's telecast jumped 16.4% in viewership.
Bengals-Jets trails only the Dallas-New Orleans matchup on Dec. 19, 2009 (10.5 million viewers) and Green Bay-Dallas on Nov. 29, 2007 (10.1 million viewers).
Through its first three TNF contests this season, the NFL's in-house service has averaged 5.9 million viewers, up 37% from last season's 4.3 million.
TNF continues on Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. (ET) with the Houston Texans at the Philadelphia Eagles.