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Monday Night Football Enjoys Most-Watched Season Since 2013

“Overall, Monday Night Football viewership is up 11% from the 2020 season and 7% from 2019, averaging an audience of 13.5 million each week.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Monday Night Football

ESPN on Wednesday revealed its viewership numbers for both its main Monday Night Football broadcasts and the companion coverage featuring Eli and Peyton Manning. And the numbers paint a very positive picture for the network.

Overall, Monday Night Football viewership is up 11% from the 2020 season and 7% from 2019, averaging an audience of 13.5 million each week. It experienced the best season-long viewership since 2013.

The top broadcast was way back in Week 1 with the Baltimore Ravens taking on the Las Vegas Raiders. Just under 17 million tuned in for that contest, making it the most-watched MNF telecast since 2016.

The games in Week 14 (Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals) and Week 15 (Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears) drew similar numbers. The Rams/Cardinals game on Dec. 13 saw 15.895 million tune in, while the next week 15.841 million watched the Vikings beat the Bears.

The Minnesota/Chicago game was ESPN’s largest audience for a Week 15 game since 2011, according to the network.

The Manningcast turned out to be a huge hit for the network. The duo’s presentations made for eight of ESPN’s most-watched alternate telecasts ever, averaging 1.6 million over nine episodes.

The best showing for the two came in Week 8, when the New York Giants took on the Kansas City Chiefs. Nearly 2 million tuned in to watch the Chiefs narrowly beat Eli’s former team 20-17.

While MNF would normally wrap up the week prior to the end of the regular season, this year ESPN will present games over the league’s penultimate regular season weekend. Fans can tune in Saturday afternoon and night for Chiefs/Broncos in the early game, followed by Cowboys/Eagles in primetime. Both games will be simulcast on ABC.

For the first time, ESPN will present a wild card playoff game on Monday night. It’s all part of the league’s expanded playoffs dubbed “Super Wild Card Weekend.” The MNF playoff game can be seen Jan. 17 at 8 p.m., also simulcast on ABC with MegaCast offerings on ESPN2 and ESPN+.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round NHL Games on ESPN Up 65%

The Washington Capitals-New York Rangers game, which the Rangers won 4-1, is now the most-viewed Game 1 of a first round NHL playoff series ever on cable.

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The Stanley Cup playoffs got underway this weekend in the NHL and ESPN is off to a hot start in terms of audience. Sunday’s first round games on ESPN and ESPN2 averaged 1.04 million total viewers, up 65% over 2023’s Game 1 average.

The Washington Capitals-New York Rangers game, which the Rangers won 4-1, is now the most-viewed Game 1 of a first round NHL playoff series ever on cable, averaging 1.3 million viewers. The game peaked at 1.5 million viewers.

The Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets played their first game on ESPN with the Jets taking a wild 7-6 win over the Avalanche. That game is now ESPN2’s most-viewed first round NHL playoff game ever and the third most-viewed Game 1 of a first round NHL Playoff series ever on cable, averaging 1.1 total viewers and peaking at 1.4 million viewers.

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Report: ESPN, TNT Have NBA Matching Rights

“Although the exclusive negotiating period has ended, we are still in discussions with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery regarding our media deals.”

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As the NBA’s exclusive negotiating period came to an end last night, new information about the agreement has come to light. Sports Business Journal’s Austin Karp is reporting both ESPN and TNT have matching rights for any deal presented to the NBA. The report says this goes for the linear broadcasts as well as streaming.

A source at the NBA told Karp, “Although the exclusive negotiating period has ended, we are still in discussions with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery regarding our media deals.”

Alex Sherman of CNBC had reported last week the exclusive negotiating window, which started on March 9, would most likely expire without a deal in place. Karp’s report says he believes the deal was 75% done prior to the window beginning.

Numerous reports have indicated that the league is looking to add a streaming element into its next deal and is looking for an increase in rights fees. Amazon, Apple, YouTube TV, Comcast (NBCUniversal/Peacock) and Netflix have all expressed potential interest.

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Tegna, Indiana Fever Partner for Local TV Package

“This is an exhilarating moment for women’s sports. The WNBA and Fever are leading the charge with this groundbreaking local broadcast rights agreement.”

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Logos for Tegna and the Indiana Fever and a picture of Caitlin Clark
Photo Courtesy: ESPN

The Indiana Fever and superstar Caitlin Clark will be seen on television a lot, both nationally and now locally as well. The Fever and Tegna announced a partnership earlier today to air 17 games between local NBC affiliate WTHR and MeTV affiliate WALV.

“So many new fans are tuning in to watch the world’s best basketball players compete in the WNBA, and the Fever have built a roster of incredible young talent that has caught the attention of basketball fans all over the globe,” Rick Fuson, CEO of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, said in a release. “Tegna and WTHR have been amazing local partners for years, and we are excited that more fans than ever before will get the chance to watch these amazing athletes play.”

The release also noted Tegna was working on expanded access outside of Indianapolis.

“This is an exhilarating moment for women’s sports. The WNBA and Fever are leading the charge with this groundbreaking local broadcast rights agreement,” Dave Lougee, President and CEO of Tegna, said in a release. “The remarkable journey of Caitlin Clark and her teammates has captured the hearts and minds of millions. We’re thrilled to deliver all the Fever action to every household in the Indianapolis region.”

The national TV package for WNBA games, which is aired on ABC, ESPN, Prime Video, CBS Sports Network, NBA TV and Ion will carry 36 of the Fever’s 40 games. The four games not being carried will be covered by the local package with Tegna. Several games will air on both a national and a local station.

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