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After Controversial 'MNF' Ending, ESPN Scores Most-Viewed 'SportsCenter'

Seattle receiver Golden Tate’s controversial touchdown on the final play of the Seahawks game against Green Bay may not have done much for the NFL's image, but it provided a major ratings’ boost for ESPN’s SportsCenter following its Monday Night Football coverage.

The 90-minute postgame edition – during which the worldwide leader’s on-air talent questioned the ruling that Tate gained simultaneous possession with Packers’ safety M.D. Jennings for a game-winning touchdown, criticized the replacement refs and questioned whether the continued use of the substitute officials is compromising the league’s integrity --  was the most-viewed and second-highest-rated SportsCenter (for a telecast lasting 20 minutes or longer) ever.

SportsCenter recorded a 4.5 U.S. rating, 5.2 cable rating, 5.09 million households and 6.46 million watchers, according to Nielsen data., making it the most-viewed edition of ESPN's flagship news show, surpassing the Nov. 14, 2011 show following the Minnesota-Green Bay game. The postgame SportsCenter also ranks as the second-highest-rated on record behind the Christmas night show in 1994 that scored a 5.3 rating, after the telecast between the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins

The Sept. 24 MNF averaged a 10.3 U.S. rating, 12.0 cable rating, 11.8 million households and 16.2 million viewers, accounting for the third-largest audience (second in households) on ESPN and all of cable in 2012 behind the 24.2 million for the BCS National Championship Game between Alabama and LSU on Jan. 9  and the 17.6 million who watched Wisconsin and Oregon battle in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2.

The Seattle-Green Bay MNF -- the top telecast on TV, whether broadcast or cable, on Monday which helped ESPN win the night among households, viewers and all key male and adult demos -- peaked between 11:45 p.m. – 12 a.m. (ET), as the final 15 minutes of the game delivered a 13.8 household coverage rating.

Through the first three weeks of its NFL telecast season covering four games, ESPN’s MNF has averaged an 8.6 national rating, 10.0 cable rating, nearly 9.8 million households and 13.4 million viewers, virtually even with last season.