Wednesday, September 15, 2021

TV Ratings: NFL's Opening Weekend Attracted Viewers

TV ratings for live events, including sports, have been down since the pandemic began last year, but maybe they're now starting to bounce back. 

CNBC reports the National Football League ended the first week of its 2021 regular season drawing an average of 15.29 million viewers across ESPN channels, including ABC network, for the Monday Night Football opener between the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens.

The Raiders beat the Ravens 33-27 in a back-and-forth overtime game with multiple twists to conclude Week 1. Viewership was up 42% compared to last year’s game, and top markets included Baltimore, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Kansas City, and San Diego.

The 2020 MNF contest between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers attracted an average of only 10.76 million viewers. With the pandemic playing a factor, that game was down roughly 17% compared to the first game of ESPN’s 2019 Week 1 doubleheader, which featured the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans and averaged 13.2 million viewers on ESPN channels.

On Monday, ESPN also debuted its alternate MegaCast featuring Peyton and Eli Manning providing commentary for the Raiders-Ravens game on its ESPN2 channel. The telecast attracted 800,000 viewers. The Manning brothers signed a three-year deal with Disney-owned ESPN which will feature the pair offering their thoughts and in-game breakdowns during the NFL season.

Overall, the NFL said it’s Week 1 games combined averaged 17.4 million viewers, and drew “approximately” 100 million viewers in total across all games.

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