The Detroit Lions soundly defeated the New York Giants 35 -14 last night in Motor City for the team’s largest margin of victory in a season opener since 1980. The solid win was also the first game of the official 2014 NFL regular season on ESPN’s Monday Night Football — the first of two games in a doubleheader night and facing a tough ratings comparison from last year’s record-breaking NFL opener on the network.
Monday’s first ESPN game, which saw the network repeatedly bringing up the brutal video of now-fired Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice abusing his then fiancée, drew a 9.2 rating in metered market results. That’s down 21% from the metered market results of last year’s record-breaking season opener between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. Nowhere near the rout last night’s game was, last year’s MNF kickoff got a 11.6 MM result. Starting at 10:15 PM ET, last night’s second game saw the Arizona Cardinals stage a comeback at home to inch by the San Diego Chargers 18 -17. That matchup pulled a 7.8 in MM results, basically even with the 7.7 last year’s second game of the MNF opener snagged when the Houston Texans played the Chargers in San Diego.
(UPDATE, 2:16 PM: The final score is in so to speak and it remains a fumble for ESPN with its Monday Night Football season opener. While the sports networks’ NFL doubleheader was by far the most powerful force on both broadcast and cable in primetime last night, it still took a hard tackle from last year MNF kickoff. With a 6:55 PM start, the Detroit Lions’ 21-point margin of victory schooling of the New York Giants drew an 8.4 rating among adults 18-49. A great win for the Motor City but last night’s game was down 16% from the record breaking 10.1 result that the Philadelphia Eagles’ 33-27 win over the Washington Redskins on September 9 last year pulled in.In terms of viewership, it was also a drop – down 16% from last year. Last night’s first game had an audience of 13.73 million while last year’s MNF opener had a record 16.52 million – the best that the show has done since it moved to ESPN in 2006. With both NBC’s Sunday Night Football down and ESPN’s MNF down in their official season openers, next up for the NFL is the debut of Thursday Night Football on CBS on September 11. )
It’s worth noting that last year’s record-breaking MNF doubleheader on September 9, 2013 ended up dominating both cable and broadcast networks with a 10.1 rating for the opening matchup, Philadelphia’ 33-27 win over Washington. A total of 16.52 million viewers watched that game, the best an opening MNF has done since its 2006’s debut on ESPN.
In metered market results, the top 10 markets for the Lions-Giants game were Detroit (30.6), NYC (16.6), Richmond-Petersburg (14.8), Norfolk (14.3), Las Vegas (14.1), Buffalo (12.9), Philadelphia (12.6), Charlotte (12.2), Minneapolis-St. Paul (11.3), San Diego (11.3), Baltimore (11.2) and Indianapolis (11.1).
We’ll update with more ratings as they become available.