ESPN’s Monday Night Football Nabs Nearly 20 Million Viewers in Record-Setting Season Opener


ESPN’s Monday Night Football Nabs Nearly 20 Million Viewers in Record-Setting Season Opener

  • Most-Watched Monday Night Football Game Since 2009 and Third-Best in ESPN Era
  • Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli Up 86% from 2021 Season Debut
  • Sunday NFL Countdown Week 1 Audience Equals Best Since 2016

ESPN’s delivered its most-watched Monday Night Football game since 2009 and its third best Monday game in the current era (2006 – present and 270+ games), as 19,845,000 viewers – across ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes – turned in for the Seattle Seahawks’ victory over the Denver Broncos in quarterback Russell Wilson’s return (September 12, 8:15 p.m. ET).

The highly anticipated showdown, which marked the debut of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the Monday Night Football broadcast booth and began Lisa Salters’ 11th season on the franchise’s sideline, was easily ESPN’s most-watched Week 1 game since it began airing Monday Night Football (32 games) and was up 16% from last year’s record-setting Week 1 audience.

Factoring in all regular season games of ESPN’s current era of NFL rights (2006 – present), last night’s game is the fourth best on record:

Rank Date Game Viewership
1 Monday, Oct. 5, 2009 Minnesota at Green Bay 21,839,000
2 Monday, Nov. 30, 2009 New Orleans at New England 21,402,000
3 Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022 Dallas at Philadelphia 20,195,000
4 Monday, Sept.12, 2022 Denver at Seattle 19,845,000

Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli garnered 1,502,000 viewers (on ESPN2 and ESPN+), a staggering 86% jump from their season debut last year (805,000 viewers). The alternate presentation adds to its record setting alternate telecast historical viewership, as it now accounts for all 10 of ESPN’s 10 most-watched alternate telecasts (more than 80 since 2014).

Sunday NFL Countdown Generates Significant Audience Increase
Sunday NFL Countdown (Sept. 11, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.) registered 1.6 million viewers for its Week 1 edition, matching the 2019 season as the most-watched Kickoff Week episode since 2016. The pre-game show was up 35% from 2021 Week 1 show.

COMING UP: Monday Night Football – Two Games, One Night in Week 2
Monday Night Football in Week 2 will feature two games in one night, as Disney Networks present more than five hours of consecutive football action across ESPN and ABC. The night begins with Tennessee at Buffalo at 7:15 p.m. ET, airing on ESPN with Minnesota at Philadelphia kicking off at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Lisa Salters will call Vikings-Eagles, while Steve Levy, Dan Orlovsky, Louis Riddick and Laura Rutledge will call Titans-Bills. More on Monday’s coverage plans later this week.


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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