Spike Lee’s tribute to Michael Jackson was tackled in the ratings by NBC’s football coverage Thursday night.

The ABC special Michael Jackson: Bad 25 was well-received by critics, and included interviews with stars such as Kanye West, Chris Brown and Mariah Carey honoring the late musician on the 25th anniversary of the making of his “Bad” video. Yet the 90-minute documentary delivered a weak performance, even by Thanksgiving-night standards.

Bad was seen by 4.6 million viewers and had a 1.2 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic, down 25 percent from ABC’s musical special last year, A Very Gaga Thanksgiving. It was topped by CBS repeats and tied a repeat of a repeat of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving as the night’s lowest-rated show in the demo (ABC ran the Charlie Brown special on Wednesday night, too).

NBC’s Sunday Night Football (yes, I know, but that’s the official name of the program) easily dominated the evening. The New England vs. New York game delivered roughly 16 million viewers with a 6.2 demo rating, though these live telecast numbers are considered preliminary and may shift slightly in the afternoon nationals.

Fox also had some high-rated football too, in early primetime, that pushed its regular entertainment programming forward. So Fox’s ratings are preliminary, as well. Yet it looks like fans switched over from the game on Fox to the game on NBC rather than stick around in large numbers for original episodes of The X-Factor (7.6 million, 2.4) and Glee (4.2 million, 1.3)

Overall lesson that you already knew: TV viewers want football on Thanksgiving.