ESPN’s 2021 Monday Night Football Traditional Schedule Delivers Franchise’s Best Viewership Since 2013; Inaugural MNF: Saturday Doubleheader Begins NFL’s Week 18 Season Finale

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ESPN’s 2021 Monday Night Football Traditional Schedule Delivers Franchise’s Best Viewership Since 2013; Inaugural MNF: Saturday Doubleheader Begins NFL’s Week 18 Season Finale

  • Monday Night Football Averaged 13.5 Million Viewers/Game, Up 11% from 2020 and 7% from 2019
  • Week 1 was Most-Watched MNF Game Since 2016; Multi-Year Highs Set Throughout the Season
  • Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli Shattered ESPN’s Alternate Telecast Viewership Records
  • Week 18: Kansas City at Denver & Dallas at Philadelphia on Saturday, January 8

ESPN’s 2021 Monday Night Football schedule scored a touchdown with viewers, earning the historic television franchise’s best season-long viewership since 2013. ESPN’s traditional 17-game MNF package averaged 13.5 million viewers a game, up 11% from 2020 and 7% from 2019. The two yearly percentage increases are the best among any NFL media rights holder in both years. Narrowing in, MNF was up in nearly every demo compared to the 2020 season including Persons 25-34 (4%), Persons 18-49 (7%), Persons 25-54 (9%) and Females (11%).

For the first time, ESPN’s regular season schedule will extend to the NFL’s Season Finale, as Monday Night Football: Doubleheader Saturday premieres on Saturday, Jan. 8, with the Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (4:30 p.m. ET) and Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (8:15 p.m.), with both games available on ESPN, ABC and ESPN+.

Then, ESPN and ABC – with MegaCast offerings on ESPN2 and ESPN+ – will air the first Monday night NFL Super Wild Card game on January 17 (8 p.m.).

The 2021 Monday Night Football Slate Delivered Most-Watched Games in Multiple Seasons
The 2021 Monday Night Football campaign began with the franchise’s largest opening week audience on ESPN, when the Ravens-Raiders matchup delivered 17 million viewers. That significant audience was MNF’s best in 68 games, dating back to the 2016 season. Additionally, adding in the Rams-Cardinals and Vikings-Bears matchups, which each generated more than 15.84 million viewers, this season’s MNF slate delivered three of the four most-watched MNF games in the franchise’s last 40 matchups.

On a week-to-week basis, Monday Night Football set multiple multi-year superlatives, including the best Week 3 viewership since 2012, highest Week 7 audience since 2014, top Week 13 viewership since 2013 and best Week 15 viewership since 2011. A complete breakdown is provided below.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football Week 17 matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers (Jan. 3, 8 p.m.) delivered an audience of 13.3 million viewers (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).

Peyton and Eli Raise the Bar for Alternate Telecast Viewership
Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli rewrote ESPN’s record books when it comes to alternate telecasts, as the critically-acclaimed show now holds ESPN’s record for the eight most-watched alternate telecasts (More than 60+ since 2014). The show’s regular season high came with 1.96 million viewers (New York Giants at Kansas City, Week 8) and also hit 1.9 million on two other occasions (Philadelphia at Dallas, Week 3 and Detroit at Green Bay, Week 2). Overall, the nine episodes averaged 1.6 million viewers.

ESPN’s Most-Watched Alternate Telecasts (2014-Present)

Rank Alternate Telecast Matchup Date Viewership
1. Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli Giants-Chiefs November 1, 2021 (Week 8) 1.96 million viewers
2. Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli Eagles-Cowboys September 27, 2021 (Week 3) 1.89 million viewers
3. Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli Lions-Packers September 20, 2021 (Week 2) 1.86 million viewers
4. Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli Patriots-Bills December 6, 2021 (Week 13) 1.63 million viewers
5. Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli Saints-Seahawks October 25, 2021 (Week 7) 1.61 million viewers
6. Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli Giants-Buccaneers November 22, 2021 (Week 11) 1.58 million viewers
7. Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli Rams-49ers November 15, 2021 (Week 10) 1.55 million viewers
8. Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli Browns-Steelers January 3, 2022 (Week 17) 1.48 million viewers

ESPN’s Monday Night Football Individual Game Highlights:

Week Matchup ESPN Audience + ABC/ESPN2 when applicable Superlative(s)
Week 1 Ravens-Raiders 16,974,000 viewers ·       Most-watched MNF game since 2016 (68 games)

·       Most-watched MNF Week 1 game in the ESPN era (2006-present)

Week 2 Lions-Packers 13,762,000 viewers ·       Second-most-watched MNF Week 2 game since 2014
Week 3 Eagles-Cowboys 14,948,000 viewers ·       Most-watched MNF Week 3 presentation since 2012
Week 7 Saints-Seahawks 12,899,000 viewers ·       Most-watched MNF Week 7 game since 2014
Week 8 Giants-Chiefs 14,034,000 viewers ·       MNF’s best Week 8 audience since 2014
Week 9 Bears-Steelers 12,197,000 viewers ·       Second-best MNF Week 9 audience since 2014
Week 10 49ers-Rams 12,354,000 viewers ·       Second-best MNF Week 10 audience since 2012
Week 13 Patriots-Bills 15,081,000 viewers ·       MNF’s top Week 13 audience since 2013
Week 14 Rams-Cardinals 16,070,000 viewers ·       MNF’s second-best audience in 28 games, dating back to Week 2 of the 2020 season (New Orleans at Las Vegas)

 

Week 15 Vikings-Bears 16,075,000 viewers ·       MNF’s highest Week 15 audience since 2011

 

Week 17 Browns-Steelers 13,256,000 viewers ·       MNF’s first Week 17 game on ESPN

Viewership reported by Nielsen for ESPN includes streaming audience across some ESPN, NFL and Yahoo Sports properties; audience figures for ESPN+ are not included in the audience reporting; ESPN Deportes viewership is not included in any comparisons.

Viewership figures may be updated from initial reporting, reflecting revised Nielsen reporting.

Release was updated on Jan. 10, 2022

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Contact: Derek Volner ([email protected])

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.
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