The Green Bay Packers beat the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football, the opening game of the 2011 NFL season. The Week 1 schedule is packed with great games, including the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens, but the Saints-Packers game may have been the best matchup and the TV ratings prove that.
Thursday nights game on NBC drew a 17.2 overnight rating, which matches the 2010 BCS National Championship game between Alabama and Texas. According to CNBC's Darren Rovell, it's the second highest rated regular season primetime game in 13 years.
It's pretty clear that the lockout didn't deter a lot of NFL fans from watching the game. If anything, it may have created an even more popular league, at least in the early stages of the season, because people have been missing football so much.
We've been wondering how fans will react to the return of football. Will they come back in droves? Will they punish the league's lockout by not watching?
I think these TV ratings answer that question.