It was basically a formality, but the official numbers are out, and last night’s Packers-Vikings game is officially the most watched cable program of all time, and is also the biggest audience ESPN has garnered in their thirty years as a network. The game ended up with a 15.3, which translates to 21.8 million viewers (P2+), and beat out the Eagles-Cowboys game from last year by 2.0 ratings points. Via ESPN PR….
Last night, ESPN’s Monday Night Football – the Minnesota Vikings’ 30-23 home victory over the Green Bay Packers in Brett Favre’s first game against his former team – delivered the biggest audience in the history of cable television and the highest rating in ESPN’s 30-year history. The game earned a 15.3 rating, representing 15,136,000 homes (21,839,000 P2+), surpassing the previous cable viewership record, ESPN’s Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys Monday Night Football telecast of September 15, 2008 (12,953,000 homes, based on a 13.3 rating, 18,608,000 P2+).
The game eclipsed ESPN’s previous best 14.4 rating (8,400,000 homes) for the Chicago Bears-Minnesota Vikings game on December 6, 1987, ESPN’s first season of NFL games. ESPN’s 90-minute Monday Night Countdown pre-game (7-8:30 p.m. ET) also recorded its best rating (3.5) and most-viewed show ever (3,476,000 households and 4,540,000 viewers). The previous best was a 3.3 rating (3,075,000 households, 4,056,000 P2+) on September 25, 2006.
The MNF game ranks as the No. 1 prime-time program (for cable or broadcast) among households, viewers and all key male and adult demos of the past two weeks, helping ESPN “win the night” Monday in all demographic audience categories among all networks, broadcast or cable. The game delivered a combined 58.3 rating in Minneapolis (17.5 on ESPN, 40.8 on KTSP-ABC) and a combined 49.7 rating in Milwaukee (13.6 on ESPN, 36.0 on WISN-ABC).
“Last night’s record-setting performance clearly demonstrates that big events on ESPN deliver big audiences with content across all our platforms,” said ESPN President George Bodenheimer. “In its 40th season, Monday Night Football remains a special place to showcase the NFL’s best.”
Not only are the national numbers impressive but in both Minnesota and Green Bay, almost half of the population of each city watched the contest. It’ll be tough for any other game this season to approach those numbers, but the Saints and Pats in week twelve could come close.