ESPN’s Monday Night Football: Doubleheader Saturday Debut Registers Viewership of 20.3 Million for Cowboys-Eagles and 19.1 Million for Chiefs-Broncos, ESPN’s Most-Watched NFL Regular Season Games in More than a Decade

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ESPN’s Monday Night Football: Doubleheader Saturday Debut Registers Viewership of 20.3 Million for Cowboys-Eagles and 19.1 Million for Chiefs-Broncos, ESPN’s Most-Watched NFL Regular Season Games in More than a Decade

  • Monday Night Football Finishes 2021 Regular Season with Franchise’s Best Viewership in 11 Seasons, Averaging 14 Million Viewers; Up 16% over 2020 and 13% from 2019
  • Cowboys-Eagles: Most-Watched MNF Game Since 2009; Third Best in ESPN Era
  • Chiefs-Broncos: ESPN’s Fifth Best Most-Watched MNF Game
  • MNF Finishes Regular Season Averaging 14.2 Million Viewers Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli Shattered ESPN’s Alternate Telecast Viewership Records
  • Cardinals- Rams Set for Inaugural Monday Night Wild Card as Part of Super Wild Card Weekend

ESPN’s first NFL Week 18 Monday Night Football: Doubleheader Saturday (January 8) was one for the records, as the Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles (8:15 p.m. ET) and Kansas City Chiefs-Denver Broncos (4:30 p.m. ET) become two of the five most-watched Monday Night Football games in the ESPN era (274 games since 2006). Both are ESPN’s best regular season NFL audiences in more than a decade. Monday Night Football: Doubleheader Saturday elevated MNF regular season viewership to an average of 14,182,000 million viewer a game (19 games), the best regular season viewership for ESPN since 2010 and the third best since 2006.

The Cowboys and Eagles generated an audience of 20.3 million viewers on ESPN, ABC, ESPN Deportes, while the Chiefs-Broncos delivered 19.1 million viewers across the same networks, resulting in a Doubleheader Saturday average of 19.7 million viewers

For the Cowboys-Eagles, with an ESPN and ABC only audience of 20,200,000 viewers, the NFC East showdown becomes MNF’s most-watched regular season game in 12 years (2009 season) and the third most-watched MNF game in the ESPN era.  For the Chiefs-Broncos, with 19,098,000 viewers on ESPN and ABC, the AFC West matchup is the most-watched all-AFC matchup in ESPN’s MNF era and the fifth most-watched game in ESPN’s MNF era, including the aforementioned Cowboys-Eagles game.

More Doubleheader Saturday Highlights

  • With the exception of the Cowboys-Eagles on the same day, Chiefs-Broncos is the most-watched MNF game since 2010
  • Chiefs-Broncos peaked at 24.7 million viewers in the fourth quarter and Cowboys-Chiefs at 23.4 million viewers late in the first half

    Monday Night Football Most-Watched Games (ESPN Era)

Rank Game Viewership Date
1 Minnesota at Green Bay 21,839,000 October 5, 2009
2 New England at New Orleans 21,402,000 Nov. 30, 2009
3 Dallas at Philadelphia^ 20,207,000 January 8, 2022
4 New Orleans at Atlanta 19,137,000 Dec. 27, 2010
5 Kansas City at Denver^ 19,098,000 January 8, 2022
6 Washington at Dallas 18,809,000 October 27, 2014
7 Detroit at Dallas 18,611,000 Dec. 26, 2016
8 Philadelphia at Dallas 18,608,000 Sept. 15, 2008

^on ESPN and ABC

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams in Monday Night Wild Card
ESPN will air the Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (Monday, Jan. 17, 8 p.m.) in the debut of Monday night Wild Card and concluding Super Wild Card Weekend. The showdown between the NFC’s top Wild Card seed and the NFC West Champions will have a MegaCast production, with traditional telecast available on ESPN, ABC, and ESPN+, Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli on ESPN2 and ESPN+ and Between the Lines on ESPN+. More on ESPN’s coverage of the game will be announced this week.

Monday Night Football Caps Steller Regular Season
In addition to delivering the Monday Night Football’s best regular season since 2010, the franchise was up 16% from 2020 (17 games) and 13% from 2019 (17 games). Of the NFL media rights holders who carried an exclusive game each week of the season, ESPN’s percentage increases this season over 2020 and 2019, were the highest. The franchise, compared to the 2020 season, was up in every key demo, including Persons 18-49 (10%), Persons 25-54 (12%), and Females (19%)

Prior to Doubleheader Saturday, Monday Night Football had already established its best viewership in nearly a decade based on its traditional weekday schedule, which was previously documented.

Note: For 2021 season, season average includes viewership on ESPN for every game, ABC (five games), and ESPN2, (10 games). Previous seasons comparisons include ABC/ESPN2 when applicable

Monday Night Football 2021 Season Highlights:

  • For the first time in a single season, ESPN’s MNF slate featured five games with more than 16 million viewers; Those same five games represent five of the nine most-watched games since the 2014 season
    • Week 1: Ravens-Raiders
    • Week 14: Rams-Cardinals
    • Week 15: Vikings-Bears
    • Week 18: Chiefs-Broncos
    • Week 18: Cowboys-Eagles
  • Ravens-Raiders was the most-watched Week 1 MNF game in the ESPN era
  • 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
Week 18* Chiefs-Broncos 19,098,000 viewers ·       Most-watched all-AFC matchup in ESPN’s MNF era and the fifth most-watched game in ESPN’s MNF era
Week 18* Cowboys-Eagles 20,207,000 viewers ·       MNF’s most-watched regular season game in 12 years (2009 season) and the third most-watched MNF game in the ESPN era

*Saturday game

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 release, reflecting revised Nielsen reporting.

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Contact: Derek Volner ([email protected])

 

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Derek Volner

I work in college sports, which includes football and basketball, with an emphasis on Olympic Sports. Additionally, I handle ESPN’s coverage of high school athletics and recruiting.
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