Last night's special 2009 season-opening doubleheader of ESPN's Monday Night Football delivered the two biggest cable television audiences of the year, helping ESPN win the night among all networks (broadcast or cable) in households, viewers and all key male and adults demos. In addition, the games drove significant traffic to ESPN.com's NFL content.
The New England Patriots' 25-24 come-from-behind victory over the Buffalo Bills (7 p.m. ET), earned a 10.3 rating, representing an average of 10,224,000 households (14,001,000 viewers – P2+), the largest audience for any program on cable television in 2009.
At 10:15 p.m., the San Diego Chargers' 24-20 win over the Oakland Raiders -- which also came down to a last-minute scoring drive -- received a 8.9 rating with an average of 8,774,000 households watching (11,945,000 viewers), the second-largest audience for any program on cable television in 2009.
The June 22 episode of TLC's "Jon and Kate plus 8" was previously the most-watched program on cable television in 2009 among homes, averaging 7,540,000 homes (10,605,000 viewers).
The two MNF games combined for ESPN's highest-rated and most-viewed season-opening doubleheader since the format started in 2006. ESPN's two games averaged a 9.6 household rating, 9,488,000 households (12,958,000 viewers – P2+), representing increases of 15%, 16% and 16%, respectively, vs. last year's opening games (Minnesota-Green Bay: 9.3 rating; 9,051,000 HHs and 12,501,000 viewers; and Denver–Oakland: 7.3; 7,153,000 and 9,665,000). Key demos were also up across the board from 2008.
ESPN averaged a 12.0 rating for 8-11 p.m., representing an average of 11,864,000 households, the highest of any network (broadcast or cable) for the night in prime time, with the lead in all key male and adult demos.
ESPN's presentation of the game around the game, which included NFL studio programming starting at 1:30 p.m. through the conclusion of the doubleheader, delivered 24.1 gross household coverage ratings for its MNF coverage (increase over 21.0 in 2008).
ESPN Deportes' Spanish-language coverage of Monday Night Football is also off to a strong start with both games delivering higher ratings than any of its MNF telecasts last season. The Chargers-Raiders delivered a 1.4 Hispanic rating and 65,000 Hispanic households, while the Bills-Patriots opener received a 0.9 Hispanic rating and 40,000 Hispanic households. Last year's Eagles-Cowboys matchup (9/15/08), highlighting the NFL's Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, was the previous top Hispanic rating (0.8).
Also, ESPN.com had more than 123 million page views to NFL content accessed via computers and mobile devices for Monday thru Tuesday at noon -- up 31% from the comparable time period last year. Specifically, page views for the NFL section on computers and mobile devices were up 37% and 132%, respectively, from last year. Additionally, ESPN.com streamed over 5 million NFL related videos -- up 26% from last year.
NEXT WEEK ON MNF
Next week, ESPN's MNF schedule will begin its usual schedule, with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts visiting the Miami Dolphins at 8:30 p.m. ET. The complete Monday night NFL schedule on ESPN:
Time (ET) - Program
3:30 p.m. - NFL Live
4 p.m. - NFL PrimeTime
5 p.m. - Around the Horn
5:30 p.m. - Pardon the Interruption
6 p.m. - SportsCenter Monday Kickoff
7 p.m. - Monday Night Countdown
8:30 p.m. - MNF: Indianapolis at Miami
11:30 p.m. - SportsCenter