Super Six: Buffalo at New England Delivers More Than 14.4 Million Viewers, Drives ESPN’s Monday Night Football to Finish Season with Six Consecutive Weeks of Year-Over-Year Viewership Increases


Super Six: Buffalo at New England Delivers More Than 14.4 Million Viewers, Drives ESPN’s Monday Night Football to Finish Season with Six Consecutive Weeks of Year-Over-Year Viewership Increases

  • Bills-Patriots Up 6% From 2019 Season Finale, Second-Best MNF Viewership of 2020
  • MNF Averaged Nearly 13 Million Viewers for Final Six Games; Up Year-Over-Year in Nine of 16 Weeks

ESPN’s Monday Night Football season finale featuring Buffalo at New England on Dec. 28 (8 p.m. ET) generated an audience of 14,447,000 viewers across ESPN and ABC providing the franchise with its second best viewership of the season based on Nielsen’s initial reporting. The audience also was up 6% from last year’s Week 16 presentation (Green Bay at Minnesota) only on ESPN, jolting MNF to a sixth consecutive week of year-over-year viewership increases and capping off a season where the majority of weeks experienced year-over-year audience growth.

Monday Night Football Averages 12.9 Million Viewers In Last Six Games; Up 16% From its First 10 Games
In the final six weeks of the regular season, Monday Night Football averaged 12.9 million viewers per game (Nov. 23 and 30, Dec. 7, 14, 21 and 28) based on Nielsen’s initial reporting, which doesn’t include full streaming audience, a 16% increase from the franchise’s first 10 weeks (11 games between Sept. 14-Nov. 16) in which the franchise averaged 11.1 million viewers per game, based on the same Nielsen initial reporting. Each of these individual weeks’ MNF audience (NFL Weeks 11 thru 16) was higher than the same week during the 2019 season.

Looking at the totality of the season, Monday Night Football grew its audience year-over-year in nine of 16 weeks and, inclusive of all games, MNF’s season average is 11.8 million viewers a game based on next day viewing. This year’s audience figure is only 300,000 viewers shy, per game, off last year’s same reporting schedule (-2.5%). When the full streaming audience is accounted for, MNF viewership vaults to approximately 12.24 million viewers per game (Nielsen data available through 16 games, plus ESPN’s projection for game 17), which represents a similar small percentage decrease from last year’s pace as the initial reporting. Final streaming data for game 17 will be available in the coming days.  

Monday’s Most-Watched Television Program 15 of 16 Weeks, Including Final 12 Weeks
Monday Night Football was consistently Monday’s most-watched program on television (broadcast and cable), achieving the title in 15 of 16 Mondays of the season. The franchise also drove ESPN to be the most-watched network in primetime in the same 15 weeks among all key demos M18-34, M18-49, M25-54, P18-34, P18-49, P25-54.  On cable, Monday Night Football was once again the most-watched series of the year, per Nielsen.

Editor’s Note: The following release was sent after this release was issued
Buffalo Blockbuster: Bills Deliver Record Local Rating in ESPN’s Era of Monday Night Football

Season of Superlatives
Throughout the 2020 season, ESPN’s Monday Night Football delivered a number of superlatives including:

  • Buffalo, Las Vegas and Tampa Bay set new local rating highs for individual games.
    • Buffalo generated a 49.5 and 44.9 rating at New England (Dec. 28 and vs. San Francisco (Dec. 7), respectively, the market’s two best MNF games in the ESPN era.
  • Kansas City delivered the highest local audience of the season, generating a 50.7 local rating against the Ravens (Sept. 28).

All local ratings include ESPN and OTA affiliates.

  • The most-watched Cleveland Browns Monday Night Football game in the ESPN era occurred on December 14 as 13.0 million viewers (full steaming audience now included) watched their classic against the Ravens. Locally, Cleveland delivered a 39.3 market rating across ESPN and affiliate WKYC, the market’s second best for a MNF game in the same era.
  • Monday Night Football aired its most-viewed Cincinnati Bengals game in five years, as 13.2 million viewers (full steaming audience now included) watched the Bengals pull the upset over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 21

New Orleans was Monday Night Football’s Highest Rated Market
Through 16 Monday Night Football games (Dec. 21), New Orleans was Monday Night Football’s highest-rated local market on ESPN. The top 10:

Rank Market Local Rating
1 New Orleans 13.0
2 San Diego 10.3
3 Buffalo 9.3
4 Seattle-Tacoma 9.2
Richmond 9.2
6 Pittsburgh 9.0
7 Denver 8.9
8 Birmingham 8.6
9 Sacramento 8.5
Las Vegas 8.5


ESPN to Offer Most-Extensive Multi-Channel NFL Playoff Game Offering to Date
ESPN will utilize its signature MegaCast production for its NFL Wild Card presentation (Jan. 9 or 10), marking the concept’s NFL postseason debut and delivering fans the most extensive multi-channel NFL Playoff game offering to date. Viewers will be treated to at least four distinct presentations across five Walt Disney Company networks as ESPN and ABC will simulcast the traditional telecast, ESPN2 and Freeform will produce their own distinct viewing experiences and ESPN Deportes will air the Spanish-language offering.

More on each production and initiatives around the entire MegaCast will be announced once the game matchup is determined.

Please note: 2020 Nielsen numbers now include out-of-home reporting and all comparisons are day after to day after, which includes a portion of the overall streaming audience. More metrics are available in the subsequent days following an event. Currently, full streaming audience not available for Week 15 and 16.


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner


Derek Volner

I currently lead ESPN’s NFL Communications, including Monday Night Football, NFL Draft and studio programming. Previously, I did the same for ESPN’s vast college football portfolio. I have been with ESPN since 2013.
Back to top button