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The NFL’s Most-watched Thanksgiving Games

Boardroom breaks down the most-watched Thanksgiving Day NFL games over the last 30 years. Spoiler: The Dallas Cowboys are on this list a lot.

The Detroit Lions have played on Thanksgiving every year since 1934. It’s an NFL tradition that’s stood the test of time. The Dallas Cowboys joined the Lions on Turkey Day, starting their streak in 1966. Detroit traditionally hosts the early game and Dallas hosts a late game, giving us a routine has become synonymous with the holiday over the past half-century.

While the NFL added an annual Thanksgiving night primetime game featuring various teams in 2006, the Cowboys games in the late afternoon Eastern window has always drawn the most viewers. When Dallas defeated the New York Giants on Thanksgiving last year, just over 42 million fans tuned in, breaking the all-time NFL regular season viewership record set in 1990.

Here’s a look at the 10 most viewed NFL Thanksgiving games over the last 30 years:

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Most Watched NFL Thanksgiving Games (last 30 years)

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants, 2022

Score: Dallas 28, New York 20
Network: FOX
Viewers: 42.06 million
Player of the game: Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Commanders, 2023

Score: Dallas 45, Washington 10

Network: CBS

Viewers: 41.8 million

Player of the game: Prescott, DaRon Bland

Dallas Cowboys vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 2021

Score: Las Vegas 36, Dallas 33 (OT)
Network: CBS
Viewers: 40.8 million
Player of the game: Derek Carr

Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins, 1993

Score: Miami 16, Dallas 14
Network: NBC
Viewers: 38.4 million

Dallas Cowboys vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1995

Score: Dallas 24, Kansas City 12
Network: NBC
Viewers: 35.7 million

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington, 2016

Score: Dallas 31, Washington 26
Network: FOX
Viewers: 35.1 million
Players of the game: Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott

Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers, 2023

Score: Green Bay 29, Detroit 22

Network: FOX

Viewers: 33.7 million

Players of the game: Jordan Love

Most watched Lions Thanksgiving game of all time

Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1998

Score: Minnesota 46, Dallas 36
Network: FOX
Viewers: 32.7 million
Player of the game: Randy Moss

Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills, 2019

Score: Buffalo 26, Dallas 15
Network: CBS
Viewers: 32.64 million
Player of the game: Josh Allen

Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers, 2015

Score: Carolina 33, Dallas 14
Network: CBS
Viewers: 32.5 million
Players of the game: Luke Kuechly, Jerricho Cotchery, Kurt Coleman, Cam Newton

Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 2014

Score: Philadelphia 33, Dallas 10
Network: FOX
Viewers: 32 million
Player of the game: LeSean McCoy

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears, 2015

Score: Chicago 17, Green Bay 13
Network: NBC
Viewers: 27.8 million
Players of the game: Jay Cutler, Tracy Porter

Most watched NBC primetime Thanksgiving game

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About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.