NFL Network wrapped up its fourth season of game action Christmas night with a nice Nielsen present under its tree.
The San Diego Chargers' throttling of the Tennessee Titans drew 6.9 million cable viewers, according to Nielsen data, making it the third most-watched telecast in the four years NFL Network has been carrying live games. Over-the-audience figures from the San Diego and Nashville markets will not be available until later.
Chargers-Titans trail only the Dec. 19 game in which the Dallas Cowboys ended the New Orleans Saints' pursuit of perfection, which drew 10.5 million cable watchers and the 10.1 million that tuned in the Nov. 29, 2007 contest featuring the Cowboys and Green Bay Packers.
With the Indianapolis Colts-Jacksonville Jaguars game on Dec. 17 averaging 6.2 million watchers and the New York Giants-Denver Broncos contest on Thanksgiving night delivering 6.1 million, NFL Network, now in some 55 million homes, notched four of its five most-watched games this season.
All told, NFL Network averaged 5.5 million watchers for the eight games, a 49% jump from the 3.7 million for the 2008 campaign and a 20% jump over the 4.6 million in 2007, which had been the service's previous best.
Officials at NFL Network say the scorecard shows its primetime package outdelivered the 4.8 million TNT and ESPN averaged with the 2009 NBA playoffs by 15%, and topped TBS's MLB postseason average of 5.1 million watchers by 8%. It should be noted that both the NBA and MLB postseasons aired many more games than NFL Network.