Last night, ESPN’s Monday Night Football – the Dallas Cowboys’ 41-37 home victory over the Philadelphia Eagles – delivered the biggest audience in the history of cable television. The game earned a 13.3 rating, representing 12,953,000 homes (18,608,000 P2+), edging the previous record, ESPN’s New England – Baltimore Monday Night Football telecast of December 3, 2007 (12,529,000 homes, based on a 13.0 rating, 17,522,000 P2+). In addition, for the second straight Monday, ESPN won the night among all networks, broadcast or cable, and the game drove significant traffic to ESPN.com’s NFL content.
Last night’s telecast is the most-watched prime-time NFL game of the 2008 season to date. It also is ESPN’s third-highest rating of all time, trailing only two other NFL games: Chicago at Minnesota on December 6, 1987 (14.4 rating; 8,400,000 homes), and Detroit at Miami on Christmas 1994 (14.2 rating; 8,927,000).
Cable’s third-biggest audience ever is also an ESPN Monday Night Football telecast from Dallas – the New York Giants at the Cowboys on October 23, 2006, with an average of 11,807,000 homes (12.8 rating, 16.028 P2+).
For 2008, the three Monday Night Football telecasts represent cable’s three biggest audiences of the year. The other two came in last week’s special 2008 season-opening doubleheader of Monday Night Football:
- Minnesota at Green Bay earned a 9.3 rating, representing an average of 9,051,000 households (12,501,000 viewers – P2+)
- Denver at Oakland received a 7.3 rating with an average of 7,153,000 households watching (9,665,000 viewers).
Those two games powered ESPN to an increase in ratings vs. the first NFL weekend of 2007, the only NFL partner network to post a ratings increase with its opening week games.
The telecast’s statistics represent increases of 46% in rating, 48% in household impressions and 60% among P2+, respectively, vs. the same week last year (Philadelphia – Washington: 9.1; 8,735,000 and 11,633,000).
For the NFL season to date, ESPN’s Monday Night Football is averaging a 10.1 rating and 9,846,000 households (13,786,000 P2+), up 23%, 25% and 32%, respectively from last season through three games.
ESPN's presentation of the “game around the game,” which included NFL studio programming starting at 3:30 p.m. through the conclusion of NFL Primetime at 2:30 a.m. ET, delivered 25.6 gross household coverage ratings for its MNF coverage.
OTHER NEWS ACROSS THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK