'MNF' Madness: Cowboys-Panthers Game Draws 2009 Cable-Best 15.7 Million Viewers

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For the third week running, ESPN tackled a new cable audience mark in 2009 with its coverage of Monday Night Football.

On Sept. 28, it was America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys, hosting the Carolina Panthers, that produced an 11.5 cable rating, 11.4 million households and some 15.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen data.That surpassed ESPN's Sept. 21 telecast of Indianapolis Colts' 27-23 victory over the Miami Dolphins that averaged an 11.0 rating  and 14.7 million viewers.

Cowboys beat Panthers on MNF

 Through the first four games of the franchise's 40th season, ESPN has averaged a 10.4 rating, 10.3 million households and over 14 million viewers, gains of 6.1%, 7% and 5.4%, respectively, over the 9.8 rating, 9.6 million households and 13.3 million watchers for the first quartet of MNF telecasts in the 2008-09 season.

Dallas-Carolina ranks as the fourth-biggest cable program ever (excluding breaking news) among households, and seventh with viewers (exclusive of breaking news).

The Sept. 28 MNF game led all programs, broadcast and cable, in all key male and adult demos and helped ESPN win the night among all networks (broadcast or cable) in all key and adult male demos.

Next week, the 2009 Nielsen mark could fall again, as the MNF match-up features Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings hosting the quarterback's former team, the Green Bay Packers.

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