‘Thursday Night Football’ Averages 16.5M for CBS-NFLN Simulcasts

CBS wrapped its primetime Thursday Night Football telecasts on Thursday.

The seven primetime games — which were simulcast on cabler NFL Network — averaged 16.5 million viewers on the two networks, well above the 8.5 million from last season, which aired solely on NFL Network. (CBS reported the ratings as a gross average across the two networks since that’s how it was sold to advertisers.)

The Denver Broncos’ 35-21 victory over the San Diego Chargers drew 20.2 million viewers, the second biggest audience this season after the Sept. 11 TNF debut between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens (20.8 million).

CBS still has one more game on its one-year $275 million deal with the NFL, a Saturday doubleheader with NFL Network that features the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins and the Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 20.

CBS, which easily led the primetime ratings race among the broadcasters each of those Thursdays, debuts its scripted lineup next week, featuring the return of The Big Bang Theory to its regular time slot and the premiere of freshman comedy The McCarthys.

NFL Network regains sole possession of Thursday Night Football for the rest of the season, beginning with the Oct. 30 matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers.