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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ Draws 16M Viewers In Week 5

  • Raiders-Chiefs generates MNF’s best Week 5 in 11 seasons.
  • Viewership up 39% from last year.
​Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Everything about ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” feels bigger this year. The broadcast booth of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, who’ve called six Super Bowls. The more attractive game schedule. And most importantly for ESPN and its advertisers, the bigger TV ratings.

ESPN’s telecast of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 30-29 comeback victory over the Las Vegas Raiders averaged 15.9 million viewers, up 39% from last year. 

It was MNF’s best Week 5 performance since 2011 — and third-best since ESPN took over the MNF package in 2006. More on MNF’s rebound:

  • The audience for Raiders vs. Chiefs peaked at nearly 18 million viewers between 9:30-9:45 p.m. ET. The telecast helped ESPN win the night among both broadcast and cable networks. 
  • ESPN grabbed nearly 16 million viewers in Week 5 without the added jolt of the popular “ManningCast” on ESPN2. Peyton and Eli Manning will return in Week 7 with an alternative feed of the Chicago Bears at New England Patriots.
  • During Weeks 1 and 3, ESPN posted record audiences of 19.9 million and 19.4 million. The network’s Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants telecast in Week 3, for example, ranked as the fourth most-watched MNF game in ESPN’s 17-year MNF history, averaging 19.3 million viewers.

During the NFL’s crazy offseason of network announcer/analyst changes, ESPN made the biggest moves, luring Aikman and Buck away from rival Fox Sports, then pairing them with veteran sideline reporter Lisa Salters and officiating analyst John Parry.

ESPN paid through the nose, shelling out contracts that will pay Aikman-Buck a combined $165 million over the next five years.

But you could argue ESPN’s MNF broadcast booth has gone from worst to first compared to the top announce teams at Fox, CBS Sports, NBC Sports and Amazon Prime Video. 

The one-two punch of Aikman-Buck on ESPN, and Manning-Manning on ESPN2, has helped the network land a much better game schedule — and sets it up nicely to telecast its first two Super Bowls on ABC in coming years.

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