ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage of the AFC North battle between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh tackled north of 14 million viewers.
MNF averaged a 9.1 U.S. rating and 14.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. The presentation drove ESPN to the top of the Sept. 17 primetime ratings charts among all networks --- cable and broadcast – relative to viewers and adult demos. The MNF game – the Bengals topped the Steelers, 20-10 -- ranked as the top telecast of the night across cable and broadcast in the key male and adult demos, and second among households and viewers to the season premiere of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
Game coverage peaked from in the 10 p.m. quarter hour with a 10.4 U.S. rating.
Cincy-Pittsburgh was down 9% from a 10.0 rating and 8% from the 15.5 million million watchers drawn by Atlanta-Denver drew during the second week of the 2012 NFL season. That MNF matchup featured the second game in the comeback of Broncos star quarterback Peyton Manning.
Bolstered by its best opening night doubleheader, ESPN’s MNF through three games has averaged an 8.8 rating and just under 14.1 million viewers in 2013, gains of 10% and 14%, respectively, from the same stage of the 2012 NFL campaign.