TV Ratings: 'Thursday Night Football' Improved in NBC Return

Seahawks_Cardinals - Getty - H 2017
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The Seattle Seahawks faced the Arizona Cardinals last night, the first Thursday Night Football game of the middling NFL season to be aired on NBC, in addition to streaming on Amazon and getting its regular NFL Network telecast.

Thursday's game was improved in early Nielsen returns, both from its last airing on broadcast two weeks ago and the comparable outing one year ago. The Seahawks' 22-16 victory over the Cardinals scored an average 9.4 overnight rating among households in primetime. It's a 12 percent spike from the last game to air on CBS, which pulled a combined 8.4 overnight rating. (That ultimately translated to a shared 11.4 million viewers.) That game marked a season low for Thursday Night Football, a TV franchise that hasn't seen as dramatic year-to-year dips that it did in 2016 — or, for that matter, this current one.

And speaking of 2016, the Week 10 Thursday Night Football of that season aired on the NFL Network exclusively — so there's no true year-over-year comparison. But, compared to NBC's first Thursday Night Football telecast of 2016, it's just a hair above the shared overnight rating the broadcaster and the NFL Network scored together on Nov. 17.

Thursday Night Football, however, remains a point of real debate in sports — and this week's game did little to help the league's argument for it. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is out for the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon on the field. Some critics are blaming the scant allotted recovery time from typical Sunday play.

The Seahawks' Gregg Bell is one of them. The wide receiver was quoted after the game by one sports writer as saying, "Thursday Night Football should be illegal."

Elsewhere on the broadcast dial, CBS landed in No. 2 thanks to dead even episodes of The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon. The duo led the way in the key demo, with Big Bang pulling a 2.7 rating among adults 18-49 and Sheldon following with a 2.2 rating. Its Thursday neighbors were similarly unmoved, with Mom (1.5 adults), Life in Pieces (1.2 adults) and SWAT (1.0 adults) all steady. 
The 300th episode of Grey's Anatomy brought a steady 1.9 rating among adults 18-49 on ABC. The drama was followed by even outings of Scandal (1.1 adults) and How to Get Away With Murder (0.9 adults). Gotham (0.9 adults) and The Orville (1.0 adults) also saw change on Fox, same as Supernatural (0.6 adults) and Arrow (0.5 adults) on the CW.