MNF: ESPN Scores Fourth-Best Season with 13.4M Viewers

Capped by its second-largest telecast of the 2014 season, ESPN recorded its four-most-watched and fifth-highest-rated  campaign with Monday Night Football.

Over 17 telecasts, the worldwide leader averaged an 8.3 U.S. rating, 9.37 million households and 13.35 million watchers, according to Nielsen data. Those deliveries, which included seven of the 10 largest household audiences of calendar year, made MNF the most-watched series on cable for a ninth straight season, according to ESPN officials. Dating back to its turn with games on Sunday night, 2014 also marked the 28thconsecutive year that ESPN’s primetime NFL series is cable’s most-watched series.

However, the performance fell below the 2013 season, when ESPN averaged an 8.6 rating, 9.9 million households and 13.7 million watchers (see chart below).

Still, ESPN, which will televise its first ever playoff game with a Wild Card contest on either Jan. 3 or 4,  ranked as the No. 1 network all 16 weeks among key male demographics -- 18 to 34, 18 to 49 and 25 to 54 -- while winning the night among households and viewers on 12 of 16 Mondays this fall.

MNF ended its 45th regular season on Dec. 22 on a hight note as ESPN's telecast of Cincinnati Bengals’ 37-28 victory over the Denver Broncos scored a 9.7 rating, 11.3 million households and 16,03 miliion viewers, based on Nielsen data. The game, in which the Bengals clinched an AFC playoff berth aided by Jeremy Hill's 85-yard touchdown run (pictured) and four interceptions by Peyton Manning, was ESPN’s second-highest-rated and second-most-viewed MNF telecast of the season, behind the 11.4 rating, 13.2 million households and 18.8 million viewers for Washington's upset of Dallas on Oct. 27.

 The Bengals-Broncos battle peaked in the 11 p.m. quarter hour with an 11.0 rating and 18.1 million viewers.  MNF led all the night’s programs (broadcast or cable) among all key male demos.

Elsehwere, ESPN Deportes tackled its best MNF season in 2014, ringing up records among Hispanic households -- 59,000, surpassing 45,000 last year and in 2009 -- and among Latino viewers, tallying 85,000 of those watchers, up from 68,000 in 2013.  All told, Hispanic household and viewers increased 31% and 25%, respectively, versus 2013.

The most-watched game of the 2014 season was also the second-most-watched NFL regular season game ever on ESPN Deportes: the aforementioned Redskins/Cowboys telecast on October 27 averaged a 0.7 Hispanic household rating.100,000 Hispanic households and 128,000 Latino viewers, behind the Cowboys-Chicago Bears telecast on Dec. 9, 2013, which netted a 0.7 rating, 105,000 Latino households and 174,000 Hispanic watchers.

Digitally, the 17 MNF games (over 16 Mondays) this season generated an average minute audience of 106,000 on WatchESPN, an increase of 164% compared to 2013. Monday’s Broncos-Bengals game had an average minute audience on WatchESPN of 90,000, up 104% compared to Week 16 last season. The game drew 282,000 unique viewers and 19 million total live minutes viewed, respective gains of 116% and 121%, over last year.

ESPNMonday Night FootballSeason Averages (2006-14)

Source: Nielsen