You Watched Green Bay-Minnesota in Record Droves

As expected, the Monday Night Football game between Green Bay and Minnesota with its former quarterback, Brett Favre set a cable ratings record. And over 21 million people watched. That number is close to American Idol viewership. Take a look.

Monday Night Football – Cable’s All-Time Biggest Audience and ESPN’s Highest Rating Ever

15.3 Rating and 21.8 Million Viewers; ESPN Wins Prime Time Among All Networks NFL Content Yields 110 Million Page Views

Last night, ESPN’s Monday Night Football – the Minnesota Vikings’ 30-23 home victory over the Green Bay Packers in Brett Favre’s first game against his former team – delivered the biggest audience in the history of cable television and the highest rating in ESPN’s 30-year history.

The game earned a 15.3 rating, representing 15,136,000 homes (21,839,000 P2+), surpassing the previous cable viewership record, ESPN’s Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys Monday Night Football telecast of September 15, 2008 (12,953,000 homes, based on a 13.3 rating, 18,608,000 P2+).

The game eclipsed ESPN’s previous best 14.4 rating (8,400,000 homes) for the Chicago Bears-Minnesota Vikings game on December 6, 1987, ESPN’s first season of NFL games. ESPN’s 90-minute Monday Night Countdown pre-game (7-8:30 p.m. ET) also recorded its best rating (3.5) and most-viewed show ever (3,476,000 households and 4,540,000 viewers). The previous best was a 3.3 rating (3,075,000 households, 4,056,000 P2+) on September 25, 2006.

The MNF game ranks as the No. 1 prime-time program (for cable or broadcast) among households, viewers and all key male and adult demos of the past two weeks, helping ESPN “win the night” Monday in all demographic audience categories among all networks, broadcast or cable. The game delivered a combined 58.3 rating in Minneapolis (17.5 on ESPN, 40.8 on KTSP-ABC) and a combined 49.7 rating in Milwaukee (13.6 on ESPN, 36.0 on WISN-ABC).

“Last night’s record-setting performance clearly demonstrates that big events on ESPN deliver big audiences with content across all our platforms,” said ESPN President George Bodenheimer. “In its 40
thMonday Night Football remains a special place to showcase the NFL’s best.”
ESPN has now set the cable household viewership record four times in as many years since acquiring the rights to MNF. In all, cable’s five biggest household audiences ever — and eight of the top 10 – (excluding breaking news) are ESPN Monday Night Football games.

For 2009, the five MNF telecasts represent cable’s five biggest audiences in terms of both household impressions and total viewers. Through four weeks (five games) of the NFL season, ESPN’s MNF is averaging a 11.4 rating and 11,292,000 households (15,684,000 P2+), up 19%, 21% and 24%, respectively from last season. had more than 110 million page views to NFL content accessed via computers and mobile devices for Monday through Tuesday at noon — up 47% from the comparable time period last year. Specifically, page views for the NFL section on computers and mobile were up 44% from last year. Additionally, streamed 3.7 million NFL related videos.

Top 5 Most-Viewed Programs in Cable Television History (Households):

Rank, Date, Teams, Network, HHs
1. 10/05/2009 – Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings, ESPN, 15,136,000
2. 09/15/2008 – Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys, ESPN, 12,953,000
3. 12/03/2007 – New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens, ESPN, 12,529.000
4. 10/23/2006 – New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys, ESPN, 11,807,000
5. 09/28/2009 – Carolina Panthers-Dallas Cowboys, ESPN, 11,354,000

Top 5 Most-Viewed Programs in Cable Television History (Viewers):

Rank, Date, Teams, Network, Viewers
1. 10/05/2009 – Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings, ESPN, 21,839,000
2. 09/15/2008 – Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys, ESPN, 18,608,000
3. 12/03/2007 – New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens, ESPN,17,522,000
4. 08/17/2007 – High School Musical 2, Disney Channel, 17,241,000
5. 11/09/1993 – Larry King – NAFTA Debate, CNN, 16,837,000

excluding breaking news; live + same day

Top 3 Ratings in ESPN History:

Rank, Date, Teams, Rating
1. 10/05/2009, Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings, 15.3
2. 12/06/1987, Chicago Bears-Minnesota Vikings, 14.4
3. 12/25/1994, Detroit Lions-Miami Dolphins, 14.2

Next week, ESPN’s MNF schedule will continue with Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets visiting the Miami Dolphins at 8:30 p.m. The game will be the highlight event of the NFL’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. ESPN’s game around the game coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with NFL Live.

Huge. Nothing else to say.

Ken Fang

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.