Sports Media

Steelers-Giants Gives ESPN’s MNF Ratings Boost


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The first game of ESPN’s signature NFL Week 1 Monday Night Football doubleheader — Pittsburgh Steelers at the New York Giants (7 p.m. ET) — delivered cable’s third-highest audience for a sporting event in 2020 and cable’s best in the category since January, as the game averaged 10,760,000 viewers.

Inclusive of all cable programs in 2020 – sports and beyond – the audience for Steelers-Giants ranks as the fourth best overall, trailing ESPN’s presentation of the CFP National Championship on January 13 and the Rose Bowl Game on New Year’s Day, in addition to the State of the Union Address on February 4 (Fox News).

The audience for the Steelers’ victory surpassed ESPN’s audience for the 2018 MNF doubleheader opening game between the New York Jets and Detroit Lions (10.4 million viewers), but trailed last year’s corresponding game, a thrilling come-from-behind victory for the New Orleans Saints over Houston.

RankMarketLocal Rating
1Pittsburgh36.1*
2Philadelphia11.1
3New York10.5*
4Baltimore10.1
5Washington, DC10.0
Denver10.0
7Norfolk9.9
West Palm Beach9.9
9Cleveland9.8
Columbus9.8
*Includes local network and ESPN

ESPN’s second game of the Monday Night Football doubleheader featuring the Tennessee Titans at the Denver Broncos (10:15 p.m.) delivered an audience of 7,697,000 which ranks among the top six most-viewed sporting events on cable in 2020. ESPN has now aired seven sporting events with more than seven million viewers in 2020, a feat no other cable network has accomplished once.

The annual MNF doubleheader lead ESPN to “Win the Night,” as the network was the most-watched across broadcast and cable in primetime among households, viewers and key demos (M18-34, M18-49, M25-54, P18-34, P18-49, P25-54).