Boy did the Saints came marching in on Monday Night Football.
New Orleans' 38-17 throttling of the New England Patriots on Nov. 30 became the second-biggest telecast in cable history, averaging 21.4 million viewers, a 15.0 rating and almost 14.9 million households, according to Nielsen data.
As New Orleans raised its record to 11-0, the Saints-Pats fell some 400,000 viewers short of the 21.8 million viewers Monday Night Football tackled on Oct. 5, when Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings hosted his old team the Green Bay Packers. That game averaged a 15.3 household ratings.
The pair of MNF contests now stand as the top two telecasts in cable history.
ESPN has set the cable household viewership record four times in as many years since acquiring the rights to MNF, as the franchise is now in its 40th season.
The Nov. 30 MNF telecast also ranks as the top primetime program of the past two weeks -- since Nov. 16 -- among all broadcast and cable networks in households, viewers, and all key male and adult demos, according to ESPN officials.
Through 12 weeks (13 games) of the NFL season, ESPN's MNF averaged a 10.6 rating, 10.5 million households and 14.6 million watchers, gains of 18%, 18% and 19%, respectively, from last season.
Monday's game delivered a combined 35.0 rating in Boston (13.1 on ESPN and 21.9 on WCVB-ABC), as well as a combined 66.7 rating in New Orleans (23.3 on ESPN and 43.4 on WDSU-NBC). The New Orleans rating is the highest combined local rating for ESPN's MNF this season, surpassing the 63.9 in New Orleans for the Falcons-Saints game (Nov. 2).
For its part, ESPN Deportes' Spanish-language coverage of MNF delivered its highest rating and most-watched NFL game ever. The Saints-Patriots delivered a 1.5 Hispanic rating and 77,000 Hispanic households, surpassing the 1.4 Hispanic rating and 68,000 Hispanic households from the Jets-Dolphins game on Oct. 12.
For the season to date, MNF games on ESPN Deportes averaged a 1.0 Hispanic rating, 46,000 Hispanic households and 62,000 Hispanic viewers, increases of 150%, 171% and 100%, respectively, from the 2008 campaign, according to Nielsen data.