This Year’s Thanksgiving Programming Will Likely Garner an Impressive TV Audience

Parade and NFL games should draw over $280 million in ad revenue

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade had the second-highest ratings in three decades last year.
NBCUniversal

NBC, Fox and CBS will have plenty to be thankful for on Thursday, as the three broadcasters will once again benefit from one of the biggest TV viewing days of the year on Thanksgiving. As always, the big TV day is perfectly timed as brands attempt to entice potential Black Friday shoppers, and 2017 may top last year’s massive viewership.

Unlike the year’s other major holidays, TV is “an intrinsic part” of how people celebrate Thanksgiving, said Mark Marshall, evp, entertainment advertising sales, NBCUniversal. And the numbers show it. The day’s top four programs—NBC airs the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at 9 a.m., followed by a trio of NFL games at 12:30 p.m. (Minnesota Vikings-Detroit Lions on Fox), 4:30 p.m. (Los Angeles Chargers-Dallas Cowboys on CBS) and 8:30 p.m. (New York Giants-Washington Redskins on NBC)—drew a combined audience of 108 million viewers last year, the second-highest ratings in three decades.

Additionally, according to Kantar Media, the four programs raked in an estimated $280 million in ad revenue in 2016, and that figure should rise this year. The perfect storm of attentive viewers and eager advertisers just hours ahead of Black Friday sales is “the Super Bowl of holiday retail,” said John Nitti, chief media officer for Verizon (which ramped up its partnership with NBCUniversal for this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to drive viewers to its Black Friday sales).

Here’s how last year’s top four Thanksgiving telecasts drew so many viewers and led to such a big ad revenue windfall for NBC, CBS and Fox: