ESPN’s Monday Night Football: Cable’s Most-Watched Series for Ninth Straight Year


ESPN’s Monday Night Football: Cable’s Most-Watched Series for Ninth Straight Year

Seven of Cable’s 10 Biggest Audiences of 2014; MNF Helps ESPN Win the Night on 12 Mondays This Fall

For the ninth straight year, ESPN’s Monday Night Football ranks as the most-watched series on cable television – averaging 9,636,000 households and drawing seven of cable’s 10 biggest household audiences for the calendar year. ESPN’s 17 Monday Night Football telecasts in 2014 averaged an 8.3 US household rating (and 13,349,000 viewers, P2+) according to Nielsen. Additionally, ESPN ranked as the No. 1 network all 16 weeks among the coveted key male demographics (18-34, 18-49 and 25-54), while winning the night among households and viewers on 12 of 16 Mondays this fall.

The 2014 season ranks as the fourth most-viewed and fifth highest-rated season in ESPN’s nine years of presenting Monday Night Football (see chart below). Since 2006, Monday Night Football has registered five of the top 10 all-time biggest household audiences in cable history. (Only Bowl Championship Series college football games since 2011 – which also aired on ESPN – rank higher.) This also marks the 28th consecutive year that ESPN’s prime-time NFL series is cable’s most-watched series.

MNF Season-Finale: Broncos-Bengals

MNF concluded the 45th regular season of MNF this week with a Cincinnati Bengals’ 37-28 victory over the Denver Broncos. The telecast delivered a 9.7 US rating, representing an average of 11,263,000 households and 16,031,000 viewers, based on Nielsen ratings. It was ESPN’s second highest-rated and second most-viewed MNF telecast of the season. The game peaked from 11-11:15 p.m. with an 11.0 rating and 18,111,000 viewers. MNF led all the night’s programs (broadcast or cable) among all key male demos.

In Denver, the game delivered an 18.5 rating on ESPN and a 21.4 on KTVD-IND, for a combined 39.9 rating in the market. In Cincinnati, the game delivered a 13.3 rating on ESPN and a 27.5 on WLWT-NBC, for a combined 40.9 rating in the market.


Highlights for the 2014 NFL season:

  • ESPN’s MNF games rank as seven of the 10 biggest cable audiences among households (three of 10 among viewers) in 2014;
  • ESPN led all networks on Mondays – cable or broadcast – in delivery of key male and adult demos(18-34, 18-49 and 25-54) all 16 Mondays in prime time this season;
  • 12 of 16 weeks, ESPN won the night as the most-watched network among households and total viewers – cable or broadcast – in prime time on Monday;
  • ESPN’s highest-rated and most-viewed MNF game of 2014 was the Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (Oct. 27: 11.4 US rating, 13,313,000 households and 18,809,000 viewers).
  • Top-10 metered markets for the MNF season: Las Vegas (15.2), San Diego (13.7), New Orleans (13.3), Sacramento (12.2), Richmond (12.1), Seattle (11.9), Norfolk (11.7), Phoenix (11.4), Baltimore (11.4) and Denver (10.7).

ESPN Monday Night Football Season Averages (2006-14)

Year US Rating Households (000s) Viewers (000s)
2014 8.3 9.636 13.349
2013 8.6 9.993 13.679
2012 8.2 9.325 12.826
2011 8.4 9.589 13.252
2010 9.1 10.495 14.657
2009 9.0 10.315 14.382
2008 7.6 8.679 11.962
2007 7.3 8.277 11.230
2006 8.2 9.109 12.325

Source: Nielsen

The Most-Watched MNF Season on ESPN Deportes

The 2014 Monday Night Football on ESPN Deportes was the network’s most-watched and highest-rated MNF season on record among Hispanic Households (59,000, surpassing 45,000 last year and in 2009) and among Hispanic viewers (85,000 P2+, surpassing last year’s 68,000). In all, Hispanic household and viewers increased 31 percent and 25 percent, respectively, versus 2013.

The most-watched game of the 2014 season was also the second-most-watched NFL regular season game ever on nationally broadcast Spanish-language television. MNF’s Redskins/Cowboys telecast on October 27 averaged a 0.7 Hispanic Household rating and 100,000 Hispanic households and 128,000 Hispanic viewers, just behind last season’s Cowboys-Bears telecast (Dec. 9, 2013) which set the record with a 0.7 US Hispanic Household rating and 105,000 Hispanic households and 174,000 Hispanic viewers.

NFL on ESPN Digital Platforms

The 17 Monday Night Football games (over 16 Mondays) this season generated an average minute audience of 106,000 on WatchESPN, an increase of 164 percent compared to 2013. Monday’s Broncos-Bengals game had an average minute audience on WatchESPN of 90,000, up 104 percent compared to Week 16 last season. The game drew 282,000 unique viewers and 19 million total live minutes viewed, up 116 percent and 121 percent, respectively, over last year.

In addition, ESPN’s NFL coverage on digital platforms on Sunday engaged an average minute audience of 499,000, up six percent for the same week last year. Across the web and app, ESPN Fantasy Football accounted for 38 percent of ESPN’s total digital audience for the day, with an average minute audience of 189,000, up 36 percent over Week 16 last year. The ESPN Fantasy Football app had 3.8 million unique visitors on Sunday, up 28 percent over last year.

MNF’s First NFL Playoff Game Set for Wild Card Weekend, Sat., Jan. 3

ESPN’s Monday Night Football team of Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will return to the booth, along with reporter Lisa Salters, to call the first NFL playoff game in ESPN’s 35-year history during Wild Card weekend, Jan. 3-4 (teams/time TBD). The MNF crew will also call the NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium to kick off Super Bowl XLIX week in Arizona.


Mac Nwulu

I joined ESPN in 1998 and since then, it's been a great experience managing PR and communications for a range of ESPN initiatives and properties over the years. I am currently focused on soccer and The Undefeated, ESPN’s site focusing on sports, race and urban culture and how they intersect.
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