Giants-Cowboys Thanksgiving game sets NFL regular-season record with 42 million viewers


The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving game on Thursday set a new NFL regular-season viewership record. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Fox Sports drew 42 million viewers for the Giants-Cowboys game, making it the most-watched regular season game on any network.
  • The previous viewership high for a regular season game was 41.47 million, when the Giants took on the San Francisco 49ers during the 1990 season.
  • The Cowboys defeated the Giants 28-20.


In 2021, the Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders Thanksgiving game drew 40.8 million viewers. The old Thanksgiving viewership record had been 38.4 million for Dolphins-Cowboys in 1993.

This year’s Giants-Cowboys Thanksgiving viewership represents a three percent increase from last year’s comparable window.

Significance of these viewership numbers

The Fox number is obviously massive and no doubt they’ll be drinking champagne at the Fox Sports headquarters on West Pico Blvd in Los Angeles. But Fox knew it had a massive matchup with the Cowboys (the most popular draw in the league) and a Giants team that has been competitive this year.

Nielsen now counting out-of-home viewership — remember that prior to 2020 Nielsen didn’t measure out-of-home viewership (fans at sports bars, restaurants, viewing parties, etc.), so older totals are larger than what’s officially known — definitely provided a mega-lift for all the Thanksgiving Day games. The biggest significance is that all the networks will be able to charge higher ad rates for next year’s Thanksgiving Day game given companies will be charged ad rates based off the numbers we saw on Thursday. — Deitsch

What do these numbers mean for the rest of the NFL season?

Thanksgiving Day is an outlier when it comes to NFL viewership. It doesn’t portend anything heading forward. That’s not to take away from the monster viewership numbers that each of the networks received yesterday, but the late-regular season viewership for the league will depend on the same variables as every other year — the competitiveness of the matchups and whether big viewership teams such as Dallas can continue to play meaningful games. The league would certainly like the Packers and Bucs to win some games quickly. — Deitsch

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(Photo: Jerome Miron / USA Today)


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