Brett Favre last night became the first NFL quarterback to vanquish each of the league’s 32 teams, but it was ESPN’s ratings performance that had advertisers buzzing.
The Oct. 5 installment of Monday Night Football now stands as the most-watched telecast in cable TV history, drawing 21.8 million total viewers, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings estimates. Demo deliveries are pending.
The 39-year-old Favre led the Minnesota Vikings to a 30-23 victory over the Green Bay Packers, establishing bragging rights over the NFC North and knocking off the previous all-time cable ratings record. ESPN set the high-water mark a year ago, when 18.6 million fans tuned in for its presentation of the Sept. 15 Eagles-Cowboys showdown.
Since the season began, ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage is averaging 15.6 million total viewers.
Having spent 16 of his 19 NFL seasons as the Packers’ signal caller, Favre’s defection to the Vikings (following last year’s stint with the New York Jets) struck many Wisconsinites as an act of civic betrayal. Green Bay diehards rate the wily old QB alongside historic traitors like Benedict Arnold, Judas Iscariot and Darth Vader, and that bad blood––and the lack of post-season baseball––gave ESPN high hopes going into last night’s game.
Favre delivered. In his first contest against his former teammates, Favre was nearly flawless, completing 24 of 31 pass attempts, delivering three touchdowns and earning a 135.3 quarterback rating.
The local stations put up some gaudy numbers of their own, as ABC affiliates KSTP-TV in Minneapolis notched a 40.8 rating and WISN-TV in Milwaukee reported a 36.02 ratings. When the ESPN simulcast was factored in, the markets drew respective ratings of 58.3 and 49.7.