The historic Packers-Seahawks Monday Night Football game has been terrible for the NFL.  The league has been decimated by the media and fans like never before in the wake of the replacement refs scandal.  On the flip side, the insanity of MNF has been absolutely fantastic for any medium that talks about it.  Ratings go up, social media and talk radio conversation is neverending, and blog traffic is through the roof for any piece that touches on replacement refs.  

This makes it official… replacement refs are the new Tebow.

The Green Bay-Seattle game itself wasn't very highly rated as the overnight was actually down a tick from last year's Week 3 game.  However, the SportsCenter slash MNF postgame wasn't just up, it was record setting for Bristol.  The 90 minute SportsCenter ended as the most watched SportsCenter.  Ever.  Via ESPN's announcement

"ESPN’s 90-minute MNF postgame SportsCenter (12-1:30 a.m. ET) delivered a 5.2 rating (4.5 US) with 5,092,000 households and 6,462,000 viewers, ranking as the network’s most-viewed on record (airing 20 minutes or longer; records back to Jan. 1, 1990) among households and viewers. The previously most-viewed SportsCenter followed the MNF game on Nov. 14, 2011 (Minnesota vs. Green Bay): 4,470,000 households and 5,940,000 viewers.

The postgame SportsCenteralso ranks as thesecond highest-rated SportsCenter(airing 20 minutes or longer) on record behind the Christmas night (12/25) show in 1994 that followed ESPN’s NFL telecast between the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins (5.3 rating)."

Keep in mind there have now been over 50,000 episodes of SportsCenter and none of them have been watched more than the one immediately following the replacement refs drama in Seattle.  None.  And, that viewership number over 6.4 million bests the old mark by over 500,000 viewers.  I was probably like a number of you Monday night.  I didn't have too much interest in the game, but decided to invest in the last few minutes since it was close… and ended up sticking around until 2 AM ET to watch all the madness develop.

And, with record viewership, SportsCenter delivered.  ESPN has been hammered for missing badly on some big stories in the last year, but the machine was working perfectly Monday night.  Scott Van Pelt and Linda Cohn brought the right tone to the anchor's chair.  Reporters like Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, and John Clayton gave valued perspective from around the league.  We were taken back to the booth for a breakdown from the MNF crew including former ref Gerry Austin and a seething Jon Gruden.  And, on-site studio analysts Steve Young and Trent Dilfer brought strong, honest perspective that spoke to the gravity of the moment.  Each facet of the postgame worked and everyone on-camera wasn't afraid to speak against the league.  ESPN didn't back down from being critical of its most prominent business partner.  That's a reassuring statement in a year when Bristol has faced more questions of their journalistic integrity than ever. The record ratings are well deserved.  Monday's postgame was the number one sports network in the world at its best.


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