Redskins-Cowboys had largest NFL TV audience this year

Brian Tinsman
November 25, 2018 - 10:05 pm

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports


The Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys played in the dinnertime slot on Thanksgiving, an iconic American football matchup on an American football holiday. Not surprisingly, it was the biggest TV audience of the day, and indeed the entire season for the NFL.

According to Nielsen fast-nationals, the total viewership was 30.5 million people, pulling a 12.5 rating. That's up 13 percent in ratings and 16 percent in viewers over last year's Chargers-Cowboys matchup, which have an 11.1 rating and 26.3 million viewers.

That means that a 2018 record TV audience saw:

The TV audience was also treated to an abysmal non-call on the helmet-to-helmet hit on Jordan Reed that effectively ended any comeback opportunity for the Redskins. In the aftermath of the game, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden questioned officials on the non-call: "I asked the referees and they said it wasn’t helmet-to-helmet on the field, but clearly when you watch it, it was, so just a play that they must have missed for some reason."

Having such an obvious botch in front of the largest TV audience of the year just multiplies the embarrassment for the NFL. It will be interesting to see if this play, which got extensive national media coverage, will remain in the spotlight and force some sort of rules adjustment this offseason.

It's worth noting that on the whole, TV audience numbers seem to be rebounding slightly over last season. But just for comparison's sake, the 2016 Thanksgiving Day version of the Redskins-Cowboys game had approximately 4.6 million more viewers than this year's.

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