8:02am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: Patriots Propel NFL, 'Will & Grace' Takes a Hit
New England fans can always be trusted to tune in — and they did on Thursday, propelling CBS and the NFL Network up double digits over the prior season's comparable game.
Among metered market households, the telecast averaged a combined 11.1 overnight rating. That's a 26 percent jump from the week five game of Thursday Night Football in 2016 and a 12 percent lift from the previous week's telecast. It's another piece of very good news for the NFL, which has seen most primetime showdowns either steady or down from 2016 — though the season is performing in line with last year on the whole.
Also in CBS' corner on Thursday night was the fact that it was a tight game. The Patriots ended up defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a slim 19-14 margin. Like the previous week's game, Thursday Night Football was also streamed on Amazon. Complete viewership across the three outlets will arrive later on Friday.
Like most new and returning series, Will & Grace's live draw diminished quite a bit in its second week. The NBC comedy, which tied ABC's Grey's Anatomy as the night's highest-rated non-sports telecast, lost a third of its premiere haul for a 2.0 rating among adults 18-49. It averaged just more than 7 million viewers, outshining the rest of the NBC lineup by both measures. The test of Will & Grace now will be to see if its time-shifting recoups a significant portion of that lost live audience.
ABC took second-place status to football for the night, thanks to Grey's Anatomy. The final season of Scandal started out on a softer note, averaging a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49 before a new episode of How to Get Away With Murder slipped down to a 0.9 rating.
Elsewhere on NBC, comedies Superstore and The Good Place were both in line with last week's premiere performances, with a shared 1.2 rating in the key demo. Great News took a hit alongside Will & Grace, dipping to a 1.0 rating among adults 18-49. Chicago Fire earned a 1.2 rating.
The Orville slipped again on Fox, posting no demo boost from lead-in Gotham. Both shows averaged a 0.9 rating in the key demo — though The Orville did add more than half a million viewers at 9 o'clock, averaging 2.4 million viewers.