By David Zurawik
The Baltimore Sun
6:08 PM EST, November 25, 2011
There were a lot of eyes on Baltimore Thanksgiving night. In fact, there was a record number of eyes looking at M&T Bank Stadium and images of the surrounding city, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Thursday’s prime-time victory by the Baltimore Ravens over the San Francisco 49ers was the most-watched Thanksgiving program in the history of cable television, according to ratings-service data that extends back to 1994.
The game, which was heavily promoted as the first match-up of NFL teams coached by brothers, was also the most-watched game in the eight-year history of the NFL Network.
Overall, the game was seen by 10.7 million viewers, which is all the more impressive since that number does not include those viewers who watched over-the-air on network affiliates in Baltimore and San Francisco.
League rules dictate that in addition to the NFL Network cable channel, all games must also be shown over-the-air on one channel in each of the home markets of the competing teams. (Figures from WBAL-TV, which carried the game in Baltimore, were not available Friday.)
Also, by way of comparison, the NFL network is available in only 60 million homes, just over half of all TV households in the U.S.
The Ravens-49ers game was up by about 50 percent over last year’s Thanksgiving game between the New York jets and the Cincinnati Bengals. The number-two most-watched all-time cable program featured the Dallas Cowboys against the then-unbeaten New Orleans Saints on Dec. 19, 2009.
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