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The opening of ESPN Monday Night Football Raiders-Ravens pulls 15.3 million

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson # 8 pitched against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of his game at Allegiant Stadium on September 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Chris Unger | Getty Images

The National Football League finished the first week of its 2021 regular season shooting an average of 15.29 million viewers through ESPN channels, including the ABC network, for the opening of Monday Night Football between the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens.

The Raiders beat the Ravens 33-21 in an overtime game over and over again with several times to conclude Week 1. The spectator was up 42% compared to last year’s game, and major markets include Baltimore , Las Vegas, Sacramento, Kansas City, is San Diego.

The MNF 2020 contest between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers attracted an average of just 10.76 million viewers. With the pandemic taking a factor, that game dropped about 17% compared to ESPN’s first double-header 2019 Week 1 game, which featured the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans and the media 13.2 million viewers on ESPN channels.

On Monday, ESPN also debuted its alternate MegaCast with Peyton and Eli Manning providing comments for the Raiders-Ravens game on their ESPN2 channel. The broadcast attracted 800,000 viewers. The Manning brothers have signed a three-year deal with Disney’s ESPN, which will feature the couple offering their thoughts and insights into the game during the NFL season.

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) finds an opening in the lineup against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 12 at GEHA camp at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

William Purnell | Sportswire Icon | Getty Images

Meanwhile, Sunday’s NFL national game on ViacomCBS with Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs averaged 19.53 million viewers. It was the most-watched national opening game of the weekend on CBS since the 2015 opener between the Ravens and Denver Broncos contest (23.28 million viewers).

Fox Sports ’averaged 16.23 million viewers for its national game Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints. This comes down from last year’s national opening between the Saints and Tampa Bay Bucs, which featured a star quarterback match between Drew Brees and Tom Brady, and averaged 25.8 million viewers.

The network entered the NFL opener after attracting 7.7 million viewers for its Saturday Oregon vs. Ohio State college game.

The NFL began its 102nd season last Thursday with an average of 26 million total viewers for its Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys. NBC reported that the game had a maximum on TV at 25.4 million viewers between 9:45 pm and 10 pm ET. The opening of 2021 marked a 20% increase in total viewership since the start of last year’s NFL with the Chiefs and Texans.

Overall, the NFL said the Week 1 games combined had an average of 17.4 million viewers, and attracted “about” 100 million viewers in all in all games.

Disclosure: NBC Sports, which shares the parent company NBCUniversal with CNBC, broadcasts NFL games.


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