Nielsen Dawg


If there was ever a night to tune out Tirico, Jaws and the contract-extended Jon “Chucky” Gruden, it was Monday night.

ESPN was saddled with a MNF clunker on Nov. 16: the now 1-8 Manginiuses hosting the underachieving Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland’s Dawg Pound.

And let’s be fair, there wasn’t anything to miss during the lackluster contest. The Brady Quinn Brownout offense was in its fully grounded state (altogether now Cleveland fans and Bard backers: Where fore art thou, Romeo?), and there wasn’t anything nearly interesting as Titans owner Bud Adams repeatedly flipping Bills’s fans the bird during Tennessee’s 41-17 triumph over fellow AFLer Buffalo, or a certain coach, who favors a hoodie, taking a risk that failed and keeps Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts chasing perfection for at least another week.

Not to sniff at a show that reaches into the eight figures, but a lot of NFL fans got it right on Monday night: ESPN delivered its smallest MNF audience of the 2009 season with just10.2 million watchers. That was 1.7 million fewer than the San Diego Chargers-Oakland Raiders drew for the nightcap of the season-opening doubleheader on Sept. 14 and less than half of the cable-record 21.8 million who saw Brett Favre’s Minnesota Vikings take on his old Green Bay mates on Oct. 5.

The Nov. 23 installment of the 40th season of MNF isn’t exactly a barn-burner on paper either, as the rebounding, but still disappointing Vince Young-led Titans visit Reliant Stadium and the Houston Texans.

But if Drew Brees can take of business against the Tampa Bay Bucs at Raymond James on Sunday, Bristol sits on a huge night come Nov. 30. An undefeated New Orleans Saints squad hosting Belichick, Brady and the rest of New England Patriots in the Superdome could surpass the 16 million who screened the Nov. 9 Pittsburgh Steelers-Denver Broncos battle as ESPN’s second-most-watched game this season.

Who dat ain’t gonna be watching NONE?