The historic matchup of the Harbaugh brothers on Thanksgiving night made history for NFL Network.
The pro football league's in-house service tackled its largest audience ever, averaging 10.7 million viewers with its presentation of the Baltimore Ravens' 16-6 victory over the San Francisco 49ers Thursday night, according to Nielsen data, excluding tallies from local broadcast stations covering the participating teams. The game was the first in NFL history that featured two brothers serving as head coaches, with John's Ravens taking the measure of Jim's 49ers.
The Nov 24 telecast -- Baltimore raised its AFC North-best mark to 8-3, while NFC West-leading San Francisco fell to 9-2 -- now stands as the most-watched game in the eight-year history of the NFL Network, easing past the 10.5 million who watched the Dallas Cowboys end the New Orleans Saints' quest for regular-season perfection on Dec. 19, 2009.
The Thursday night telecast also became the most-watched cable program ever on Thanksgiving (Nielsen cable data is available since 1994), and was up 50% from the 7.1 million who saw the New York Jets tame the Cincinnati Bengals on Thanksgiving night in 2010.
Through three games, Thursday Night Football - Jets-Denver Broncos scored with 7.1 million watchers on Nov. 17, while 5.3 million saw Oakland-San Diego the prior week - averaged 7.5 million viewers, up 28% over 2010.
Complementary coverage of 49ers-Ravens online and via mobile devices drew a 62% jump in live streams viewed and a nearly 40% increase in unique viewers over last year's Thanksgiving night game. In addition, NFL digital traffic for full Thanksgiving Day coverage spiked 76%, according to NFL officials.
In addition, the first-ever Thanksgiving morning NFL GameDay Morning pregame show (2.5 hours live beginning at 10 a.m. (ET) from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore) drew an average of 419,000 viewers, up 138% from the same time period last year, according to Nielsen.
Thursday Night Football continues with the Seattle Seahawks visiting the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. (ET).