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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Aaron Rodgers’ Brief Appearance Helps Set ‘MNF’ Record

  • Rodgers’ New York debut averaged 22.6M viewers.
  • Viewership tops Brett Favre’s Return to Lambeau Field in 2009.
Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers only played four fateful snaps. But the New York Jets superstar helped draw a record television audience to ESPN’s coverage of “Monday Night Football.”

ESPN’s telecast of the Jets’ wild 22-16 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills averaged 22.64 million viewers across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+ and NFL+

That’s the biggest number since ESPN took over the NFL’s original prime-time package in the 2006 season from ABC Sports.

The telecast beat the previous MNF record of 21.8 million viewers in 2009, when Brett Favre’s Minnesota Vikings hosted his former team the Green Bay Packers.

Viewership rose 14% from the 19.8 million for MNF’s Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 last year.  

The audience peaked at 25.2 million viewers in the first half as the Bills took a 10-3 lead – and speculation mounted over how seriously the 39-year-old Rodgers was hurt.

The separate “Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli” MegaCast on ESPN2 contributed 1.52 million viewers to overall viewership. 

The Manning brothers have created ESPN’s Top 20 most-watched alternate telecasts. The Super Bowl-winning brothers have signed an extension to continue their popular alternate telecast through 2024.

Monday’s night TV drama from MetLife Stadium in the swamps of New Jersey had it all. 

Rodgers, the four-time MVP, made his regular season debut for the Jets on the 22nd anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks.

The home crowd roared as Rodgers charged onto the field, waving an American flag. 

The cheers turned to groans when No. 8 went down with what turned out to be a season-ending Achilles tendon tear. Before the injury, Rodgers had won his previous nine MNF starts.

But the gritty Jets came back to beat the favored Bills. And help draw a record audience to the main telecast with Troy Aikman, Joe Buck and Lisa Salters on ABC/ESPN as well as alternate “ManningCast” on ESPN2.

Separately, the NFL is on track to possibly score its most-watched Opening Weekend, beating both last season and the start in 2016.

NFL games reached an estimated 122 million unique viewers during Week 1, said Hans Schroeder, the league’s executive vice president of media distribution, on a press call Tuesday..

The league’s most-watched Week 1 games roughly doubled the TV audiences of college football games such as Texas vs. Alabama and Colorado vs. Nebraska.

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