If you’re on Twitter during ESPN’s Monday Night Football, it can feel like everyone in the world is watching the ManningCast. But while the special broadcast featuring Peyton and Eli Manning is certainly holding its audience and grabbing big headlines, it remains a novelty compared to the overall audience tuning in to watch the big NFL game of the night.
The ManningCast earned an audience of 1.89 million on Monday for the Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles game, up slightly from the 1.86 million who watched Week 2’s alternative broadcast of the Detroit Lions-Green Bay Packers game. That’s a much slower gain than the jump from Week 1, which saw 800,000 people tune in to watch the Manning brothers, but it remains a strong indicator that there is interest in whatever hijinks might happen that evening on ESPN2 and ESPN+.
Perhaps the more interesting number to consider, however, is the total audience percentage when comparing the ManningCast to the main MNF broadcast on ESPN. While the first week’s broadcast saw only 5.2 percent of the overall audience tune in, that number jumped to 13.4 percent of the total audience in Week 2. While initial numbers differed, ESPN’s official announcement for Week 3 ratings put the total MNF audience at 14.9 million, which gave ManningCast a total audience percentage of 12.68, which is a slight dip.
It’s probably not something to read too much into at the moment. More interest in the Cowboys-Eagles game from the previous week might have simply driven a larger audience in general, and ultimately had nothing to do with a decision to choose between the two broadcasting options. But it’s still a good reminder that while the ManningCast can feel like the biggest show in town on Twitter, it’s still something of a niche live experience for now.
The experiment will now take a few weeks off before returning in Week 7 when the New Orleans Saints take on the Seattle Seahawks. The lack of a ManningCast between now and then should give ESPN a good sense of just how much that alternative matters as they try to keep that audience from dropping off altogether. Mannings or not, ESPN is in good shape considering MNF is averaging 14.7 million viewers total, up 17 percent from 2020 and 23 percent from 2019 so far.