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Last night’s special 2011 season-opening ESPN Monday Night Football doubleheader helped ESPN win the night among all networks – broadcast or cable – in households, viewers and all key male and adult demos. In addition, the games drove significant traffic to ESPN.com’s NFL content. This is the start of the sixth year of MNF on ESPN.
The New England Patriots’ 38-24 road victory over the Miami Dolphins (7 p.m. ET) earned a 10.6 rating, representing an average of 10,493,000 households (14,568,000 viewers – P2+), the fourth largest audience for any program on cable television in calendar year 2011, according to Nielsen. It is the second-highest rating of ESPN’s 12 MNF opening night games, trailing only last year’s Baltimore Ravens-New York Jets opener (10.9 rating, 10,850,000 households and 14,973,000 viewers).
At 10:15 p.m., the Oakland Raiders 23-20 win in Denver over the Broncos earned an 8.2 rating with an average of 8,113,000 households watching (11,109,000 viewers), the eighth-largest household audience for any program on cable television in 2011.
The two ESPN MNF games finished as the two highest-rated programs of the night on any network, averaging a 9.5 household rating, 9,391,000 households (12,965,000 viewers). During the traditional MNF timeslot (8:30-11:45 p.m.), ESPN averaged an 11.6 household rating.
In Boston, the opening game delivered a 10.0 rating on ESPN and a 24.0 on WCVB/WMUR-ABC, for a combined 34.0 rating in the market. In Miami, it earned a 14.8 rating on ESPN and a 7.0 on WSFL-CW, for a combined 21.8 rating.