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[10/17/06 - 06:52 PM]
ESPN's Audience Up 17% Since Mnf Started
ESPN spins the numbers for Monday, October 16.

[via press release from ESPN]

ESPN'S AUDIENCE UP 17% SINCE MNF STARTED

ESPN.COM ENJOYS ITS BEST MONTH EVER, 12 OF ITS BUSIEST 20 DAYS EVERY MONDAY, ESPN LEADS ALL NETWORKS FOR KEY MALE DEMOS

Since the start of the football season, ESPN has enjoyed a 17% increase in its 24-hour audience, thanks to Monday Night Football and other NFL programming, college football and SportsCenter. The network has averaged 1,029,000 households on a total-day basis, up from 882,000 for the same period in 2005. In prime time, the increase is more dramatic, up 23%, from 2,136,000 to 2,629,000. Last night, ESPN delivered the third-biggest audience in cable television history (see below for details).

Notable audience increases on ESPN since September 2:

--MNF is up 49% vs. ESPN's NFL coverage last year, from 6,521,000 homes to 9,684,000

--Monday Night Countdown is up 42% (from 1,544,000 to 2,191,000)

--SportsCenter (live editions) is up 23% (from 748,000 to 920,000)

--College football games are up 31% (from 1,563,000 to 2,052,000)

--College GameDay is up 12% (from 1,359,000 to 1,527,000)

--Sunday NFL Countdown is up 8% (from 1,938,000 to 2,094,000)

In addition, the new ESPN on ABC Saturday Night Football series - the first weekly college football game on broadcast television - has averaged 5,341,000 homes, up 32% vs. programming in the same time period of 2005 (4,057,000).

The past month has also been one of records for ESPN.com, thanks to interest in the NFL including the launch of Monday Night Surround, growth of ESPN Fantasy Football, college football and the launch of ESPNU.com:

* ESPN.com broke its record for monthly traffic in September, when the Web's leading sports destination attracted more than 20 million unique users, nearly three million more than its nearest competitor. This represents an increase of 9% over September last year, the previous monthly record of 18.8 million.

* 11 of the top 15 most-viewed days in ESPN.com history have been recorded since September 2. This includes the four top days in the site's history, which combined for nearly 400 million page views.

* ESPN.com More than doubled the number of ESPN Fantasy Football teams and leagues compared to last season.

* In September, fan views of ESPN Motion and ESPN360 video increased more than 170 percent over the same month last year.

"I am tremendously proud of the effort we are putting in week after week on Monday Night Football and the results have been great for our fans, said George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN and ABC Sports. "The ever-growing appetite across all media among fans for sports presented with insight, immediacy and excitement fuels all we do."

LAST NIGHT, ANOTHER BIG MNF AUDIENCE - ESPN'S SECOND-BIGGEST EVER

Last night, ESPN's Monday Night Football earned an 11.7 rating as the Chicago Bears remained the NFL's only undefeated team with a remarkable 24-23 comeback victory over the Arizona Cardinals. The game was seen by an average of 10,804,000 homes (14,231,000 viewers, P2+), cable television's third-biggest audience of all time, and second-biggest this year, behind only ESPN's MNF telecast on September 25, Atlanta at New Orleans (10,850,000 homes, based on an 11.8 rating).

Last night's MNF telecast was simulcast on local over-the-air channels in Chicago (26.0 rating) and Phoenix (14.2 rating), boosting ESPN's audience to an estimated average of 11,980,000 households. The total also includes those viewing in high definition on ESPN HD.

"We are proud to assume the mantle of MNF's 36-year rich tradition," said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, studio and remote production. "It is a big game, but so much more, and our approach - last night, featuring a microphone on Arizona's Matt Leinart, Carmen Electra in the open, Charles Barkley in the booth, and a halftime segment with Jay Z's upcoming 'Show Me What You Got' music video - expands the appeal of a traditional football telecast."

It was the fifth-straight week that MNF earned a rating over a 10. In addition, last night and for the sixth consecutive week on Monday ESPN led all networks - cable or broadcast - in delivery of all key male demos: men 18-34, men 18-49 and men 25-54. ESPN also led all networks among adults 18-34 and adults 18-49. MNF continues to boost ESPN's ratings throughout the day; adding in the pre- and post-game shows, ESPN delivered 23.3 gross ratings points.

Online, ESPN.com's NFL and "Monday Night Surround" content viewed on computers and wireless devices generated more than 25.3 million page views Monday, up 62 percent over page views last year according to Web measurement tool HitBox. In addition, there were more than two million views of pro-football-related videos on ESPN Motion and ESPN360 on Monday (through Tuesday at noon).

For the NFL season to date, MNF on ESPN is averaging a 10.5 rating and 9,684,000 homes (13,083,000 P2+) for seven games in six weeks. These represent increases of 46%, 49% and 47%, respectively, compared to the first five weeks of last year's ESPN Sunday Night Football (7.2 rating, 6.521 million homes, 8.878 million viewers). ESPN's seven MNF games so far are cable television's best ratings and largest audiences of the year.

NEXT WEEK ON MNF

Next week, ESPN's MNF will feature NFC East Division rivals Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, both with 3-2 records, at 8:30 p.m.





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