Giants-Cowboys Thanksgiving game drew 42 million viewers, was most-watched NFL regular season game ever

Thanks to the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, Fox Sports had a very happy Thanksgiving.

The Giants-Cowboys Thanksgiving game pulled in 42 million viewers on Thursday, making it the most-watched NFL regular season game on any network on record, Fox Sports announced Friday.

The viewership number was reportedly up 49 percent over last year's Fox Thanksgiving game (Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions) and up three percent over last year's Cowboys game against the Las Vegas Raiders. That 42 million number also includes streaming viewers.

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The previous record-holder had been a "Monday Night Football" game between the Giants and San Francisco 49ers in 1990, which drew 41.6 million viewers. However, the highest-rated game — that is, highest percentage of televisions to tune in — belongs to a 1985 Chicago Bears-Miami Dolphins game.

In summary, the NFL remains the sports industry's ratings king, and, as sorry as some fans might be to hear it, the Cowboys are very much still America's team.

The record-breaking Giants-Cowboys game wasn't even that good

Typically, the best way to juice ratings is to have a close game go down to the wire, with big plays by big names that can generate interest on social media.

The Giants-Cowboys game didn't do that, and still got the record.

Dallas started slow in the first half, trailing 13-7 at halftime, then ripped off three straight touchdowns to open the second half. A garbage-time Giants touchdown narrowed the final score to 28-20, but it was a convincing win for the Cowboys, who were heavily favored against the injury-hobbled Giants.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott finished 21-of-30 for 261 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Ezekiel Elliott had 92 rushing yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts, while CeeDee Lamb posted 106 receiving yards on six catches and 11 targets and Micah Parsons had a two-sack game.

The most fun moment might have been a Peyton Hendershot touchdown celebration, thanks to a choreographed game of whack-a-mole, or a tight end hurdle. Less fun was what that last-minute New York touchdown did to Cowboys bettors.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) scores a touchdown during an NFL Football game in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
The Cowboys got a Thanksgiving win. So did Fox Sports. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)