ESPN's Highest-Rated and Most-Viewed Season of "Monday Night Football"
Most-Watched Series on Cable and 16 Biggest Cable Household Audiences of 2010;
Saints-Falcons "MNF" Finale is Cable's No. 3 Audience All-Time and Most-Watched Cable Show of Year;
Highest-Rated and Most-Viewed Season for Monday Night Countdown
The 41st season of Monday Night Football was the highest-rated and most-viewed season since ESPN assumed sports television's signature series in 2006. For the fifth straight year, MNF was again the most-watched series on cable television, drawing the calendar year's 16 biggest cable household audiences, and the top 12 among viewers. For the second consecutive year, ESPN's MNF averaged higher than a 10 rating and 14 million viewers for the season.
In five seasons on ESPN, Monday Night Football has registered the top 10 all-time biggest household audiences in cable history, four of which occurred this season.
ESPN's 17 Monday Night Football telecasts in 2010 averaged a 10.5 rating (9.1 US rating), representing an average of 10,495,000 households (14,657,000 viewers - P2+), increases of 1%, 2% and 2%, respectively, vs. 2009 (10.4; 10,315,000 and 14,382,000), according to Nielsen. Additionally, MNF ranks No. 2 among all regularly-scheduled Prime Time television programs this season among the coveted adults 18-49 demographic.
MNF ended on a very strong note with last night's game - the New Orleans Saints' 17-14 road victory over NFC South rival Atlanta - delivering a 13.0 rating (11.2 US rating), representing an average of 12,957,000 households (19,137,000 viewers - P2+). The game ranks as the third-largest cable television audience all-time among both households and viewers, excluding breaking news. MNF led all the night's programs (broadcast or cable) among households, viewers and all key male and adult demos, making ESPN the top network for the night in all categories. It marks the sixth time MNF won the night among households, and the fifth time for total viewers, among all networks this NFL season.
"ESPN's Monday Night Football was another resounding success this season, further demonstrating why it remains cable's most valuable television franchise and the signature property within our year-round multiplatform NFL coverage," said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, programming.
MNF on TV
ESPN's highest-rated and most-viewed Monday Night Football game of 2010 was the New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (Dec. 27), which topped all of cable television for the year with 12,957,000 households and 19,137,000 viewers based on a 13.0 rating. In five years, ESPN's MNF occupies the top 10 spots on the list of cable's biggest audiences ever among households - and nine of the top 10 among viewers - excluding breaking news.
Other highlights for the 2010 NFL season:
ESPN's MNF games rank as the 16 biggest audiences among households and the 12 biggest among total viewers for cable television in 2010;
ESPN led all networks - cable or broadcast - in delivery of men 18-34, men 18-49, adults 18-34 and adults 18-49 every Monday in primetime this season (16 consecutive weeks); ESPN was also No. 1 in men 25-54 in 15 of 16 weeks, and No. 1 among adults 25-54 on 13 Mondays;
Six times, ESPN won the night as the most-watched network among households, and five times for viewers - cable or broadcast - in Prime Time on Monday;
Monday Night Countdown, ESPN's 90-minute weekly MNF pre-game show, finished with an average 2.7 rating and 2,729,000 households (3,532,000 viewers), representing increases of 13% and 16%, respectively. This ranks as Countdown's highest-rated and most-viewed season ever. Countdown also registered its two most-viewed shows ever.
ESPN Monday Night Football Season Averages (2006-10)
Year Rating Households (000s) Viewers (000s)
2010 10.5 10.495 14.657
2009 10.4 10.315 14.382
2008 8.9 8.679 11.962
2007 8.6 8.277 11.230
2006 9.9 9.109 12.325
Most-Viewed Monday Night Football Games on ESPN (2006 - Present)
Rank Date Program Viewers (000s) HHs (000s)
1. 10/05/2009 Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings 21,839 15,136
2. 11/30/2009 New England Patriots-New Orleans Saints 21,402 14,872
3. 12/27/2010 New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons 19,137 12,957
4. 09/15/2008 Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys 18,608 12,953
5. 10/25/2010 New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys 17,953 12,948
6. 12/03/2007 New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens 17,522 12,529
7. 09/27/2010 Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears 17,454 12,482
8. 10/11/2010 Minnesota Vikings-New York Jets 17,313 12,454
9. 12/20/2010 Chicago Bears-Minnesota Vikings 17,094 11,573
10. 12/28/2009 Minnesota Vikings-Chicago Bears 17,006 11,899
Top 10 Most-Viewed Programs in Cable Television History (Households):
Rank Date Program Network HHs (000s)
1. 10/05/2009 Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings ESPN 15,136
2. 11/30/2009 New England Patriots-New Orleans Saints ESPN 14,872
3. 12/27/2010 New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons ESPN 12,957
4. 09/15/2008 Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys ESPN 12,953
5. 10/25/2010 New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys ESPN 12,948
6. 12/03/2007 New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens ESPN 12,529
7. 09/27/2010 Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears ESPN 12,482
8. 10/11/2010 Minnesota Vikings-New York Jets ESPN 12,454
9. 12/28/2009 Minnesota Vikings-Chicago Bears ESPN 11,899
10. 10/23/2006 New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys ESPN 11,807
Top 10 Most-Viewed Programs in Cable Television History (Viewers):
Rank Date Program Network Viewers (000s)
1. 10/05/2009 Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings ESPN 21,839
2. 11/30/2009 New England Patriots-New Orleans Saints ESPN 21,402
3. 12/27/2010 New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons ESPN 19,137
4. 09/15/2008 Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys ESPN 18,608
5. 10/25/2010 New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys ESPN 17,953
6. 12/03/2007 New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens ESPN 17,522
7. 09/27/2010 Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears ESPN 17,454
8. 10/11/2010 Minnesota Vikings-New York Jets ESPN 17,313
9. 08/17/2007 High School Musical 2 Disney 17,241
10. 12/20/2010 Chicago Bears-Minnesota Vikings ESPN 17,094
Note: excluding breaking news; live + same day
2010 MNF games in bold
MNF Team to Call 2011 Discover Orange Bowl
ESPN's Monday Night Football team of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski will return to the booth to call the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl between Pac 10 runner-up Stanford and ACC champion Virginia Tech. The Bowl Championship Series game will be played at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida on Monday, January 3, 2011, on ESPN and ESPN HD (simulcast on ESPN3.com) at 8:30 p.m. ET.