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Primetime Ratings: CBS’ Football Crushes All Comers

CBS' Thursday Night Football debut predictably walloped the competition last night. The Denver Broncos versus Kansas City Chiefs telecast, airing on CBS and simulcast on NFL Network, earned a best-ever rating for the sophomore franchise with a 14.3 rating/25 share in metered markets, up 4% from last year's Steelers-Ravens inaugural Thursday Night Football contest.

CBS posted a primetime 5.0 rating/17 share in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen overnight numbers, well ahead of NBC’s 1.1/4, ABC’s 0.6/2, Fox’s 0.5/2 and CW’s 0.3/1. ABC, Fox and The CW were in reruns, while NBC took some swings with personality-driven specials. Jeff Dunham: Unhinged in Hollywood, starring the comedian and ventriloquist, showed a 1.2/5 across 8-9 p.m., while Mat Franco’s Got Magic, a two-hour special featuring a bit with Neil Patrick Harris of NBC's Best Time Ever, averaged a 1.1/4. Franco won America’s Got Talent in 2014.

The football telecast on CBS averaged a 5.0 rating in 18-49 viewers, including the pregame show. The franchise is back next week with Washington Redskins versus New York Giants.

The first year of Thursday Night Football, with CBS airing seven games for $275 million, averaged 16.5 million viewers on CBS and NFL Network. This year’s package went for a reported $300 million.

The NFL season kicked off on NBC the previous Thursday, with a New England Patriots-Pittsburgh Steelers game averaging a 17.7 household rating and 30 share in the 56 Nielsen metered markets.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.