NFL’s ‘Monday Night Football’ Opener Ratings Steady For ESPN From 2014; Game 2 Surges Over Last Year

There were debuts and finales on the Big 4 last night but the only big game in town was the official season kickoff of the doubleheader on the sports giant. With some brand new graphics featuring Howard Cosell and a blazing tribute to Frank Gifford, ESPN’s Monday Night Football took the field for the 2015-16 season last night. And it was a mixed result with Game 1 steady with 2014 and Game 2 surging over last year.

With a great showing by Julio Jones, the 7 – 10:15 PM ET first game on Monday saw the Atlanta Falcons beat the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24 at home. Nice and close despite an underdog rally, which is what any broadcaster wants to keep the viewers watching,, the match-up drew a 9.8 in metered-market results. That’s a 6% rise from the slumping 9.2 result of the Detroit Lions’ defeat of the New York Giants in the opening game of last year’s MNF doubleheader on September 8, 2014. Last night’s game peaked in the 10 – 10:15 time period with a 13.9 MM rating.

Still, the Falcons vs. Eagles game was down 16% from the 2013 record-breaking MNF opener, which pulled an 11.6 rating in metered-markets for the Disney-owned cabler. That game two years ago saw the Eagles take on the Washington Redskins in what ended up becoming the most watched MNF opener since ESPN took the franchise in 2006 – with an audience of 16.52 million.

The second game of last night was a real blowout with the San Francisco 49ers demolishing the Minnesota Vikings 20-3. Breaking the ratings rules, that game, which started at 10:15 PM ET, got 9.5 in MM results. That’s way up 27% from the 7.8 rating the Arizona Cardinals tight 18-17 win over the San Diego Chargers had in 2014’s MNF opener’s second game. Last night’s Game 2 peaked right at the start with a 12.5 ratign in the 10:15 to 10:30 slot.

The Top 5 local markets on ESPN for last night’s MNF Game 1 was led, not surprisingly, by Philly with 14.6 rating. Then it was West Palm Beach (14.3), Richmond-Petersburg (14.1), New Orleans (13.9) and Norfolk (13.6). Atlanta was outside the Top 10 with a 9.9 rating. For Game 2, San Fran delivered a 10.9 MM rating to ESPN while Minneapolis had an 11.7.

There will be more numbers to come from last night’s games later but here’s some ratings from last year to ponder. The 2014 Lions vs. Giants opener, which was a 35-14 blowout BTW, went on to score an 8.4 rating among adults 18-49 with 13.73 million watching. That was down 16% in the key demo from the 2013 opener.

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