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The network announced Tuesday that the game, featuring two of the NFL's biggest rivals, was seen in an average of 11,807,000 homes, based on a 12.8 rating. That translates to 16,028,000 viewers (a cable ratings point represents 923,000 households).
The previous record for cable television was the debate over NAFTA in November 1993, between then-vice president Al Gore and Ross Perot.
"We've never believed the acronyms NAFTA and MNF belonged in the same sentence, and we're thrilled to have established MNF as the home of cable's biggest audience ever," said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president for studio and remote production. "That fans have responded with the record is very rewarding and a vivid reminder of the power of Monday Night Football."
This has been a big season for ESPN's Monday Night Football. The return of football to New Orleans on Sept. 25, when the Saints topped Atlanta, drew the third-largest cable audience, while the Bears' shocking 24-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals last Monday is fourth.
Monday Night Football now occupies seven of the top eight spots on the list of cable's biggest audiences ever (breaking news excluded). This was the sixth-straight week that MNF earned a rating over a 10 -- all six weeks after the special opening Monday doubleheader, which registered a 9.9 and 8.5.
For the NFL season to date, MNF on ESPN is averaging a 10.8 rating and 9,961,000 homes. The network's eight MNF games so far are cable television's best ratings and largest audiences of 2006.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.