ESPN and Tony Kornheiser might have preferred Brett Favre, but the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers averaged 12.501 million viewers in their 24-19 victory over the Minnesota Vikings according to Nielsen, up 13% from last year's Monday Night Football kickoff (Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals -- 11.1 million).
Even the hapless Oakland Raiders getting blown out early by the Denver Broncos in the second game still averaged 9.665 million, making it the second most watched show on cable this year, trailing only the Vikings vs. Packers game that preceded it. ESPN went with a two-game kickoff last year as well and this year's nightcap outperformed last year's by 14% according to ESPN. Last year's second game featuring the Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers had 8.5 million viewers. The Packers game beat everything on the broadcast networks and even the Raiders/Broncos game edged out NBC's Deal or No Deal (9.61 million in the preliminary overnight reports), though the NFL contest likely crushed Deal or No Deal among 18-49 year olds.