Monday Night Football Delivers Cable’s Two Biggest Audiences of 2008

Monday night’s special 2008 season-opening doubleheader of ESPN’s Monday Night Football delivered the two biggest cable television audiences of the year, helping ESPN win the night among all networks, broadcast or cable. In addition, the games drove significant traffic to ESPN.com’s NFL content.

The Green Bay Packers’ 24-19 victory over the Minnesota Vikings (7 p.m. ET), earned a 9.3 rating, representing an average of 9,051,000 households (12,501,000 viewers – P2+), the largest audience for any program on cable television in 2008. This represents increases of 8%, 9% and 13%, respectively vs. last year’s opener (Baltimore – Cincinnati: 8.6; 8,288,000 and 11,080,000).

At 10:30 p.m., the Denver Broncos’ 41-14 win over the Oakland Raiders received a 7.3 rating with an average of 7,153,000 households watching (9,665,000 viewers), the second-largest audience for any program on cable television in 2008. This represents increases of 7%, 8% and 14%, respectively vs. last year’s week one nightcap (Arizona – S.F.: 6.9; 6,625,000 and 8,500,000).

ESPN’s telecast of Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby from Yankee Stadium on July 14, previously the most-watch program on cable television in 2008, averaged 6,184,000 homes, based on a 6.4 rating (9,116,000 viewers).

For the usual MNF time slot (8:30 – 11:45 p.m.), ESPN averaged a 10.4 rating (10,139,000 homes), with a 9.1 rating for 8-11 p.m., representing an average of 10,373,000 households, the highest of any network (broadcast or cable) for the night in prime time, with the lead in all key male and adult demos.

ESPN’s presentation of the game around the game, which included NFL studio programming starting at 1:30 p.m. through the conclusion of the doubleheader, delivered 21.0 gross household coverage ratings for its MNF coverage.

NFL content on ESPN.com, including “Monday Night Surround,” accessed via computers and mobile devices, generated more than 13.3 million visits and 94.2 million page views from Monday through Tuesday at noon. In addition, there were four million views of pro football-related video on ESPN.com.