The first Monday Night Football telecast in a decade featuring the Detroit Lions tackled ESPN's second biggest audience of the 2011 NFL season.
With its coverage of Detroit's 24-13 defeat of the Chicago Bears on Oct. 10, ESPN scored an 11.9 cable rating, 10.3 U.S. rating, 11.8 million households and almost 16.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen data.
Those deliveries made MNF the top telecast on TV - broadcast and cable - on Oct. 10 among all key male and adult demos, while the franchise finished second among households and viewers, according to ESPN officials.
The telecast ranks as ESPN and cable's fifth best of 2011, behind the worldwide leader's coverage of a pair of Bowl Championship Series contests, the final MNF telecast of the 2010 NFL season (which fell at the start of Nielsen's 2010) and the Sept. 26 MNF matchup between Dallas and Washington.
Drawing 17.1 million viewers, that game is ESPN's top telecast of the current NFL season. However, it fell short of the 10.7 U.S. rating, almost 12.5 million households and 17.3 million watchers that saw the New York Jets beat former QB Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings during its sixth MNF telecast a year ago, according to Nielsen data.
Season to date, MNF has averaged a cable-best 10.0 rating, 8.6 nationally, 9.89 million households and 13.6 million viewers. Those numbers are trending down relative to 2010, when MNF, its fifth on ESPN, established new Nielsen benchmarks of a 9.1 national rating, 10.5 cable mark, 10.49 million households and 14.66 million watchers on average.