Week 1 Wrap: Unusually Bad Start For “Monday Night Football”

Posted by | September 12, 2012 at 8:30 AM

While declining ratings could have been expected given the lopsided score, the season opener of “Monday Night Football” earned unusually low numbers on ESPN.

The Bengals/Ravens Week 1 “Monday Night Football” game drew a 7.0 U.S. rating and 10.904 million viewers on ESPN, down 23% in ratings and 25% in viewership from Patriots/Dolphins last year (9.1, 14.568M), and down 26% and 27%, respectively, from Ravens/Jets in 2010 (9.4, 14.973M).

The game ranks as the lowest rated and least-viewed season premiere of “MNF” since ESPN began airing the games in the 2006-07 season. The previous lows were a 7.3 and 11.080 million viewers for Ravens/Bengals in 2007.

Overall, Bengals/Ravens ranks as the lowest rated and least-viewed NFL season debut on ESPN since Chiefs/Broncos on “Sunday Night Football” in 2004 (6.9, 10.109M).

Also Monday night, the Chargers/Raiders nightcap drew a 6.8 U.S. rating and 10.450 million viewers — down 4% in ratings and 6% in viewership from Raiders/Broncos last year (7.1, 11.109M), and down 11% and 12%, respectively, from Chargers/Chiefs in 2010 (7.6, 11.889M).

Of note, Chargers/Raiders drew a higher rating among adults 18-49 Monday night (4.9) than Bengals/Ravens earlier in the night (4.7).

Ratings/Viewership For Week 1 NFL Telecasts on ESPN
Past decade

# Date Away Home Net Rating Viewers (000)
2012 Mon., 9/10/12 Bengals Ravens ESPN
7.0
10,904
Chargers Raiders ESPN
6.8
10,450
2011 Mon., 9/12/11 Patriots Dolphins ESPN
9.1
14,568
Raiders Broncos ESPN
7.1
11,109
2010 Mon., 9/13/10 Ravens Jets ESPN
9.4
14,973
Chargers Chiefs ESPN
7.6
11,889
2009 Mon., 9/14/09 Bills Patriots ESPN
8.9
14,001
Chargers Raiders ESPN
7.6
11,945
2008 Mon., 9/8/08 Vikings Packers ESPN
7.9
12,501
Broncos Raiders ESPN
6.2
9,665
2007 Mon., 9/10/07 Bengals Ravens ESPN
7.3
11,080
49ers Cardinals ESPN
5.8
8,500
2006 Mon., 9/11/06 Vikings Washington ESPN
8.2
12,570
Chargers Raiders ESPN
7.0
10,495
2005 Sun., 9/11/05 Colts Ravens ESPN
7.4
11,248
2004 Sun., 9/12/04 Chiefs Broncos ESPN
6.9
10,109
2003 Sun., 9/7/03 Raiders Titans ESPN
7.2
10,795
2002 Thu., 9/5/02 49ers Giants ESPN
7.6
10,799
Sun., 9/8/02 Cowboys Texans ESPN
7.8
12,103

(Monday’s numbers from ESPN, with additional information from The Futon Critic)