ManningCast Credit: ESPN

Turns out, doubling the games during the ManningCast does not double the ratings. In fact, it shrinks them.

We’ve been wondering for a while now when the audience for the ESPN2 alternative broadcast of Monday Night Football might finally drop into six-digit territory after watching the audience plateau this season.

While the ManningCast debuted on September 13, 2021, with 800,000 viewers, it very quickly ascended into the seven digits, peaking on November 1 when 1.96 million viewers watched Peyton and Eli Manning break down a game between the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs. The 2022 NFL season saw the audience swing from 1.68 million to 1.17 million, trending downward as the year progressed. And while the 2023 season started strong with the ManningCast pulling in 1.52 million for the season opener, the broadcast has been flirting with their Mendoza Line, drawing audiences of 1.028 million and 1.068 million, recently, though last week’s Eagles-Chiefs game pumped viewers up to 1.92 million.

However, they came crashing back down this week, ironically during a Monday evening with double the football to watch. According to the latest ratings reports, the Mannings garnered a peak audience of around 940,000 during the doubleheader featuring the Giants vs. Packers and Titans vs. Dolphins.

While it’s easy to conclude that the novelty of the ManningCast has worn off, there are plenty of caveats worth noting. The most important one is that ABC is simulcasting MNF this season, which has pulled viewership from both ESPN and ESPN2. Couple that with an evening when there were entirely different games on ABC and ESPN, both of which were pulling their fanbases over to the main telecast, and it would make sense that the ESPN2 broadcast would take a hit. Third, the fact that neither game seemed too exciting on paper beforehand likely played a role in how many people wanted to tune in to watch. Had one of those games been the Chiefs vs. Cowboys, we’re probably not having this conversation right now.

Indeed, the appeal of the ManningCast has never been about monster ratings. So long as the clips continue to go viral on social media and A-listers want to show up to talk shop (or butt cheeks), it’s hard to imagine anyone over at ESPN will be panicking, especially when you note the overall MNF viewership. Still, the Mannings are staring down a so-so regular-season finale (Philadelphia Eagles vs. Seattle Seahawks) before they get to boost their numbers with a Wild Card playoff game. It’s unlikely they’ll see their overall season average rise too much.

The real question will be how the lagging viewership impacts the long-term investment that the Mannings and Omaha Productions puts into the ManningCast. Peyton’s got a lot of things cooking, and if the ManningCast becomes the kind of thing “only” 750,000 viewers are turning in for each week, perhaps he’ll decide he has more fulfilling things he could do with that time.

[Sports Media Watch]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to