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‘MNF’ Doubleheader Scores Largest Cable Audiences of 2008

ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader scored big with viewers last night, garnering a 9.3 and a 7.3 rating, respectively, for the two National Football League marquee games and giving the sports network a decisive victory against all networks—broadcast or cable—for the evening.

The Green Bay Packers’ 24-19 win over the Minnesota Vikings drew a 9.3 rating— 9.05 million households and 12.5 million viewers—during the 7 p.m. ET to 10:30 ET timeslot, according to Nielsen Media Research data. The rating was up 8.1% over the 8.6 for last season's MNF opener between the Baltimore Ravens-Cincinnati Bengals, while viewership rose 12.8% from 11.1 million watchers last year. 

The game marks the largest audience for any cable program in 2008 to date. 

Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos’ 41-14 annihilation of the Oakland Raiders pulled a 7.3 rating, 7.15 million households and nearly 9.7 million viewers after its 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff, making it cable's second most-watched program so far this year. The nightcap's rating was 5.8% higher than the 6.9 for the second game of the 2007 MNF-opening doubleheader, the Arizona Cardinals-San Francisco 49ers contest. The viewer average improved 13.7% from the 8.5 million for Cards-Niners.

Both games easily outpaced the 9.1 million total viewers who tuned in for Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby (also telecast by ESPN) on July, 14.

For the usual MNF time slot (8:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. ET), ESPN averaged a 10.4 rating (10.1 million homes), with a 9.1 rating for 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, representing an average of 10.4 millionhouseholds, the highest of any network (broadcast or cable) for the night in primetime, with the lead in all key male and adult demographics, ESPN officials said. 

NFL content on, including “Monday Night Surround,” that was accessed via computers and mobile devices generated more than 13.3 million visits and 94.2 million page views from Monday through Tuesday at noon.  There were also 4 million views of pro football-related video on