It's official, last night's ESPN Monday Night Football game where the Dallas Cowboys bested the Philadelphia Eagles 41-37 set ratings records both for Monday Night Football since it's aired on ESPN, and set a new record for largest cable network viewing audience. In both cases the previous records were with last year's matchup between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens The game drew 18.608 million viewers. Here's the full press release with additional data from ESPN:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2008
Monday Night Football -- Cable's Biggest Audience Ever
ESPN Wins Prime Time among All Networks for Second Straight Week
ESPN.com NFL Content Yields 8.6 Million Visits & 86 Million Page Views
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.
Also, NFL content on ESPN.com, including "Monday Night Surround," accessed via computers and mobile devices generated more than 8.6 million visits and more nearly 86 million page views from Monday through Tuesday at noon. In addition, during the same period there were more than 2.6 million views of pro football-related video on ESPN.com and SportsCenter Right Now was viewed more than 2.4 million times. Also, in the past week (Tuesday through Monday) ESPN football-related podcasts were downloaded more than 614,000 times.
NEXT WEEK ON MNF
Next week, ESPN's MNF schedule will continue with the New York Jets and Brett Favre visiting the San Diego Chargers at 8:30 p.m. The complete Monday NFL schedule on ESPN: