Fox introduced Thursday Night Football in 2018, and this season's debut was proved incredibly successful for the company. It helped a lot that on Thursday night Philadelphia Eagles and Green Pay Packers had a thrilling game that was won by Eagles, 34-27.
The result of 17.7 million viewers is impressive and 22% improvement over the last year's cycle opener. This was the best result for TNF, excluding the last season's Week 13 game between New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys which was viewed by 22.2 million people. As for this year's opener, if Amazon Prime and other digital platforms are included, the number goes up to even more impressive 18.6 million.
There is no doubt that this result so impressive thanks to an exciting matchup between Eagles and Packers, and even better the game was epic, as it was fought until the very end. While there is no doubt that these numbers would be worse if lower-rated teams played an average game, it's impossible to know how lower would they be.
These numbers are encouraging because NFL ratings were in steady decline, so five-year deal for $3 billion dollars made by Murdochs last year was considered to be nothing more than a gamble which could easily end up tragically. Of course, this doesn't have to mean much in the long run, as Fox will air ten more TNF games this season. Still, this is a good sign for the rest of the season and especially the Superbowl of February 2 that will be held at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium.
Overall rating in 100th NFL season is strong, as the excitement around the league is higher than it has been for a long time. For Fox and the NFL, this enthusiasm is something that they will need to put to good use.
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