Nov 29, 2022 - Sports

Thanksgiving weekend draws massive sports viewership

Illustration of a pumpkin pie with stitching and dough resembling a soccer ball

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Huge audiences tuned into football and soccer over Thanksgiving weekend, with the NFL, World Cup and college football all drawing record viewership.

Why it matters: That was particularly good news for Fox Corp., which aired the three most-watched games on three consecutive days.

  • Thanksgiving: The New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys matchup was the most-watched NFL regular-season game ever, averaging 42 million viewers across live TV and streaming, per Nielsen. The total audience for the three NFL Thanksgiving games was 138 million, up from 103 million last year and a new Thanksgiving Day record.
  • Friday: USA-England drew over 15.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched men's soccer match ever on English-language TV in America, Fox said. Another 4.6 million watched the Spanish-language broadcast on Telemundo or Peacock, bringing the total viewership to nearly 20 million, per NBCU.
  • Saturday: Ohio State-Michigan drew 17 million viewers, making it the most-watched regular-season college football game in Fox's history and the most-watched regular-season game on any network since 2011.

What they're saying: A Fox spokesperson told Axios last week that the company expected roughly 120 million people to watch its Thanksgiving weekend coverage across Fox and FS1. These three games alone delivered over half that number.

For context: The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — one of the few non-sports events that routinely ranks among the year's top broadcastsdrew 27.7 million viewers on Thursday across NBC and Peacock.

The big picture: Fox wasn't the only network that scored huge sports ratings over the holidays.

  • Saturday's Argentina-Mexico World Cup match was the most-watched sporting event in Telemundo's history, with the Spanish-language broadcast drawing more than 8.9 million viewers across Telemundo, and the Peacock and Telemundo streaming platforms, the network said.
  • Even after a jam-packed few days, fans still tuned into the NFL across all networks on Sunday, per usual. The Philadelphia Eagles-Green Bay Packers game drew 16.2 million viewers on NBC's "Sunday Night Football," the show's best overnight tally since Oct. 16.

What to watch: Fox should put up another impressive viewership number today when the U.S. Men's National Team takes on Iran in a win-or-go-home World Cup game. The game begins at 2 p.m. ET.

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