It ranked further down the list than the overnights indicated, but the Browns’ season debut on ESPN was still one of the network’s most-watched NFL preseason games.
Monday’s Browns/Washington NFL preseason game earned a 4.5 U.S. rating and 6.9 million viewers on ESPN, up 18% in ratings and 24% in viewership from Steelers/Washington last year (3.8, 5.6M), up 36% in both measures from Eagles/Patriots in 2012 (3.3, 5.1M), and the top preseason game on ESPN since Vikings/Texans in 2009 (5.2, 7.9M).
Overall, the game ranks as the fifth-highest rated and sixth-most viewed preseason telecast ever on ESPN (dates back to 1990). The strong performance lifted ESPN’s preseason average to a five-year high 3.5 U.S. rating and 5.4 million viewers.
The Browns’ first game of the preseason was a similarly strong performer, albeit on a smaller scale. The August 9 game against the Lions earned 2.8 million viewers on NFL Network, its largest preseason audience ever.
In other preseason action, Sunday’s Chiefs/Panthers game on FOX drew a 3.8 and 6.2 million viewers — down 7% in ratings and 4% in viewership from Colts/Giants last year (4.1, 6.5M) and down 37% and 35%, respectively, from Colts/Steelers on NBC in 2012 (6.0, 9.5M).