The NFL completed its hybrid telecast game plan for Thursday Night Football by scoring 52% gains in ratings and viewership, making the 2014 season its best ever with both measures.
Over 16 telecasts, CBS and NFL Network combined to average a 7.6 rating and 12.3 million viewers up from a 5.0 and and 8.1 million for 13 games in 2013, when the contests aired only on the cable network and over-the-air stations in the participating clubs' DMAs.
The format featured CBS and NFL Network simulcasting the first seven TNF matchups, with the pair averaging 16.5 million watchers. The next seven games aired solely on NFL Networks and attendant broadcast stations, with CBS continuing to produced the telecasts and its top on-air tandem of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the action. Last Saturday, Dec. 20, saw NFLN air the Washington-Philadelphia contest, before the duo simulcast the nightcap of the doubleheader, San Diego's come-from-behind win over San Francisco.
Among the season highlights:
*All eight TNF games on CBS/NFL Network during weeks 2-8, and 16 scored as the top-rated and most-watched program on television in primetime for those nights across all networks. In addition, the NFLN simulcast was the No. 1-rated and most-watched program on cable television for weeks 2, 4, 6, and 8.
*All seven TNF primetime games on NFL Network and over-the-air stations (weeks 9-16) were the highest-rated and most-watched program on cable television for each of the Thursday nights they aired.
*The eight TNF games in 2014 on NFL Network (and over-the-air stations) recorded a 5.2 rating an 11% advance from the comparable six games in 2013, while averagimg 8.5 million viewers, 8% more than last season.
*The highest-rated and most-watched game on CBS/NFL Network during Weeks 2-8 and 16 was the first TNF game of the season, the Sept. 11 Pittsburgh-Baltimore matchup that registered a 12.7 rating and 20.8 million viewers. That contest followed the then-indefinite suspension of former Raven running back Ray Rice, who was caught on camera knocking out his then fiancee, now wife, in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino.
*The highest-rated and most-watched game on NFL Network and over-the-air stations was the Dec 4 affair between Dallas-Chicago, which counted a 6.7 rating and 11.2 million viewers.That game was the highest-rated and most-watched program across all networks for the night.