Dallas ruined the New Orleans Saints' perfect season on Saturday, but the Cowboys weren't the only beneficiary: NFL Network scored its most-watched cablecast ever.
NFL Network's Dec. 19 coverage of the ‘Boys' 24-17 averaged 10.5 million cable watchers, according to Nielsen data, the most in the pro football league's in-house channel's four seasons of televising live regular-season games.
The total for America's Team's upset of Drew Brees and crew in the Superdome on Saturday night surpassed the service's previous mark of 10.1 million for Dallas-Green Bay on Nov. 29, 2007, which tackled 10.1 million cable viewers. That game notched 12.1 million watchers in totals, when the over-the-audience for the participating teams' DMAs were calculated. Those figures won't be available until later this week.
Coupled with the 6.2 million who watched the Indianapolis Colts extend their 2009 mark to 14-0 with a 35-31 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Dec. 17, NFL Network has averaged 5.4 million cable viewers for seven live primetime games this campaign, up from 3.4 million through the same span last season. (Adding in over-the-air viewing, Indy-Jacksonville tallied 7 million viewers in total.)
With the two contests, officials at NFL Network, which will televise its final 2009 game with AFC West Division champion San Diego Chargers visiting the 7-7 Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Christmas at 7 p.m. (ET), anticipate the service will win cable's primetime ratings race for the week of Dec. 14-20.
Online, fans viewed more than 1 million live streams of NFL.com Live: Thursday Night Football presented by Sprint coverage of the Dallas-New Orleans game and watched more than 650,000 hours with an average visit of nearly an hour - both records for a live event on NFL.com. NFL.com Live coverage features live "look-ins," studio analysis, and reports from the sidelines during the game broadcast.