ESPN kicked off the 2002 National Football League season with a 9.4 household
rating Thursday night, according to Nielsen Media Research data.
ESPN said the San Francisco 49ers-New York Giants contest was its
highest-rated show since an NFL matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and New
England Patriots tackled a 10.6 household rating Dec. 5, 1999.
ESPN said the 8.2 million homes that tuned in the 49ers-Giants contest was
the eighth-largest in basic-cable history. The game outperformed last year's
season-opener between the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans, which drew a 7.8,
by 21 percent.
Industry sources said ESPN had guaranteed advertisers a 9.0 household rating
for the game, which marked the first time the pro-football league had started a
season on a Thursday night.