But local ratings down from last prime-time outing
The last time the Chicago Bears faced the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field on Thursday Night Football, the game aired only on NFL Network, was on opposite a live production of Peter Pan, and protesters denouncing the police shootings of Eric Gardner and Michael Brown were marching on Lake Shore Drive (Chicago’s own bout with a controversial police shooting wouldn’t come until a year later when the tapes showing LaQuan McDonald’s murder were released.)
When the two teams squared off this past Thursday night, a lot of things were different – including the outcome of the game.
With playoff implications on the line for both teams, the Bears-Cowboys tilt hit a season-high for Thursday Night Football drawing close to 18 million viewers for the Fox/NFL Network telecast and a 10.8 household rating, one where the Cowboys lost to the Bears 31-24.
The victory was the 8th largest audience in TNF’s history, with ratings up 61 percent from last year’s week 14 game and up 67 percent in viewership.
The numbers grow to 18.8 million if you include streaming totals for Amazon Prime, Twitch, and Yahoo, who in total drew on average a combined 1.1 million viewers. Prime also had a separate announcing team with Hannah Storm and Andrea Kramer.
By comparison, the TNF matchup on Dec. 4, 2014 drew only a 5.5 final household rating and just 9.1 million viewers, essentially tying NBC’s live presentation of Peter Pan opposite the game.
The 2019 edition of Bears-Cowboys on TNF had major differences from five years ago – competition was noticeably lighter as the major networks aired no blockbuster special programming: CBS stuck with its regular sitcom lineup of Young Sheldon and Mom, while ABC relied on Charlie Brown Christmas and new holiday movie Same Time, Next Christmas; the game aired on Fox and NFL Network as opposed to just NFL Network (and CBS O&Os WBBM-TV and KTVT in their respective home markets); and the Bears’ victory as the infamous 2014 team lost to Cowboys in a blowout.
And of course, there were no protests on Lake Shore Drive.
In news that would surprise a lot of people given how well the Bears (and QB Mitch Trubisky) have been playing lately, the game scored its lowest primetime rating this season, earning only a 26.5 household rating over Fox-owned WFLD and NFL Network combined, only slightly higher than the 2014 game (26.2, combined from WBBM/NFL Network.) Keep in mind overnight ratings now include out-of-home data.
Demographic information and Dallas-Fort Worth area ratings were not available at press time.
The Bears’ next prime-time game is December 22 at home against the Kansas City Chiefs, a game all but certain to keep its prime Sunday Night Football slot as it looked like a month ago, it was going to get flexed out for another game.