ESPN on Wednesday revealed its viewership numbers for both its main Monday Night Football broadcasts and the companion coverage featuring Eli and Peyton Manning. And the numbers paint a very positive picture for the network.
Overall, Monday Night Football viewership is up 11% from the 2020 season and 7% from 2019, averaging an audience of 13.5 million each week. It experienced the best season-long viewership since 2013.
The top broadcast was way back in Week 1 with the Baltimore Ravens taking on the Las Vegas Raiders. Just under 17 million tuned in for that contest, making it the most-watched MNF telecast since 2016.
The games in Week 14 (Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals) and Week 15 (Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears) drew similar numbers. The Rams/Cardinals game on Dec. 13 saw 15.895 million tune in, while the next week 15.841 million watched the Vikings beat the Bears.
The Minnesota/Chicago game was ESPN’s largest audience for a Week 15 game since 2011, according to the network.
The Manningcast turned out to be a huge hit for the network. The duo’s presentations made for eight of ESPN’s most-watched alternate telecasts ever, averaging 1.6 million over nine episodes.
The best showing for the two came in Week 8, when the New York Giants took on the Kansas City Chiefs. Nearly 2 million tuned in to watch the Chiefs narrowly beat Eli’s former team 20-17.
While MNF would normally wrap up the week prior to the end of the regular season, this year ESPN will present games over the league’s penultimate regular season weekend. Fans can tune in Saturday afternoon and night for Chiefs/Broncos in the early game, followed by Cowboys/Eagles in primetime. Both games will be simulcast on ABC.
For the first time, ESPN will present a wild card playoff game on Monday night. It’s all part of the league’s expanded playoffs dubbed “Super Wild Card Weekend.” The MNF playoff game can be seen Jan. 17 at 8 p.m., also simulcast on ABC with MegaCast offerings on ESPN2 and ESPN+.
NBA Draft Ratings Rise 32% For ESPN and ABC
“The event peaked at 8:15pm ET when four and a half million viewers tuned in.”
The 2022 NBA Draft may have lacked the high profile prospect that prior drafts have had, but the intrigue surrounding the top three picks led to strong audience interest.
With all eyes on the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets viewership for the draft rose 32% year over year for ESPN. The first round on ABC and ESPN averaged close to four million viewers (3,988,000).
Paolo Banchero wound up going #1 to the Magic, Chet Holmgren to #2 to the Thunder, and Jabari Smith Jr. #3 to the Rockets. The full two rounds of the draft averaged just over three million viewers (3,047,000). Round 2 aired exclusively on ESPN.
The first round on ESPN and ABC was the most-watched program for June 23rd across all of television in all key demos. The event peaked at 8:15pm ET when four and a half million viewers (4,500,000) tuned in.
Shannon Sharpe Apologizes to Richard Jefferson for Calling Him Lazy
FS1’s Shannon Sharpe took to social media to clear the air between him and ESPN’s Richard Jefferson over some comments Sharpe made about the former NBA champion.
Sharpe said Jefferson was lazy for only wanting to talk about basketball. Jefferson is an NBA analyst for ESPN and doesn’t normally appear on debate shows or provide analysis on other sports.
“There is not a person in this industry since I have retired that would ever refer to my work ethic as being lazy,” Jefferson said in a response video on his TikTok. “So as long as you live don’t ever do that again or this conversation is gonna be much different.”
Sharpe saw the video and apologized saying his assessment of Jefferson was lazy.
“I want to apologize, I come to you as a man, Rich, and apologize to you for my take on what you said,” he said.
Much like Jefferson did, Sharpe then went on to break down the differences between hosts on debate shows who have to watch and study various different sports and analysts like Jefferson who only specialize in analyzing one sport.
But ultimately Sharpe wanted to bury the hatchet and make it clear to the internet that there’s no problems between the two.
“Richard and I do not have a beef,” Sharpe said. “There is nothing going on, and this is my last time addressing this issue.”
Jefferson tweeted on Saturday accepting Shannon’s apology.
Media Rights Deals are Recession-Proof, Benefit from Longer Terms
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year
The U.S. economy may be in the “worry” phase about an upcoming recession, but if recent television deals are any indication, sports leagues are not. Media rights deals continue to skyrocket despite all of other financial indicators showing that people, businesses are currently struggling.
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year. Those are just a couple of examples of the massive figures that seem to run counter what the average person is dealing with.
Media rights seem to be unharmed by overall macroeconomic environment. It’s interesting to look at why.
One of the main reasons seems to be scarcity. There are only so many NFLs in the world. The number might be one. If you have those media rights, you have access to a multitude of cashflow. It’s important to have the product that people want. Since people will not stop wanting their sports, it’s important to have live sports.
Also, fan participation isn’t one that seems to dwindle, overall, even in a pandemic or financial crunch. Fans care about their team, sport and the league they are in. That kind of fervor for a product makes payment to them or to whomever owns their rights to see them, a foregone conclusion.
A huge reason, also, for the value of a franchise and/or media rights deal to be largely unharmed by current economic climates is their length. Those rights are structured to be long-term and hopefully weather whatever financial crisis may be on the horizon in a hope that it is temporary.