It was a good night for the Indianapolis Colts on , but it was a really big night for Grey’s Anatomy fans as Patrick Dempsey’s McDreamy returned after a five-year absence.

Last night the Shonda Rhimes medical drama dedicated its two-hour Season 17 season premiere to frontline healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic. A collapse by Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey unveiled a classic network dream sequence that saw her deceased love appear on a sun-drenched beach.

However, as charged as the Grey’s season opener was, it took a hit in the ratings.

Compared to the Season 16 premiere of September 26, 2019, last night’s episode was down 13% among adults 18-49 and 11% in viewers for a 1.3 ratings and an audience of 5.5 million. For those how track the numbers, the Season 16 debut of Grey’s didn’t shift from its fast affiliate results to the final numbers last year.

Having said that, as you can see in our chart below, Grey’s was easily the top non-NFL show of the night, topping the return of Law & Order: SVU (0.6). Of course, as expected, in a primetime line-up that also saw CBS’ The Unicorn (0.4) back for its second season (down 50% from its Young Sheldon season premiere lead-in debut), Thursday belonged to Fox’s Thursday Night Football (2.1/8 million viewers).

The Colts’ 34-17 thrashing of the Tennessee Titans now has the two teams tied for the top of the AFC South. Yet for Fox, it was a 12% slide in the key demo from last week’s Green Bay Packers’ 34-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Once again, an undeniable fact of pro-football is that smaller market teams always take a hit from teams like Green Bay and the 49ers with national followings and huge local markets.

As always with live events like NFL games that TNF data will be adjusted as the final metrics come in

Still, helped by a dip of just 7% in fast affiliates sets of eyeballs for the Colts vs. Titians match-up, Fox won the generally pretty steady night with ease – though those Hoosiers were celebrating for sure

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