It has been only two weeks, but ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” ratings are down compared to previous years. The Week 1 doubleheader on the network came in lower than anticipated.
Things didn’t get better in Week 2, though the game had stiff competition from the Emmy Awards.
How much have ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ ratings declined?
The early game – New York Jets vs. Detroit Lions – in Week 1 was down to 7.5, the lowest rating for the “Monday Night Football” opener in years. The second game – Los Angeles Rams vs. Oakland Raiders – in Week 1 remained steady compared to 2017.
Jets-Lions is lowest early window MNF opener in at least a dozen years. Blowouts never good. Rams-Raiders is flat compared to Chargers-Broncos last year in late window https://t.co/TVWQ4zSHPP
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) September 11, 2018
The Chicago Bears’ win over the Seattle Seahawks wasn’t much better in Week 2. The game pulled an 8.2, the lowest Week 2 rating during an ESPN “Monday Night Football” game.
Bears' 24-17 win over the Seahawks last night marked lowest Week 2 "MNF" overnight rating yet for ESPN (8.2). Previous low was 8.3 for Eagles-Bears in 2016. Had Emmys competition last night, but that also hit new low at 7.4 overnight on NBC
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) September 18, 2018
As Austin Karp notes, ESPN’s Week 2 game had to compete with the Emmys … which also hit a new low for ratings.
Why are ESPN’s ‘MNF’ ratings down?
Given how vocal President Donald Trump has been about the league’s declining ratings, it would be easy to assume viewer protests are responsible for the ratings dip. That may not actually be the case. Ratings are generally up around the league. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” for example, was up 10 percent from last season in Week 2. People are still watching football at a high rate.
So why has ESPN been hit with lower ratings? It could be a few different factors. Television viewership is down in general. Shows no longer pull massive ratings. ESPN’s Week 1 doubleheader may have been down compared to previous years, but those games were still “the two highest-rated telecasts of the night across all broadcast and cable networks,” according to the Washington Post.
Blowouts are also not great for ratings, which could have played a role in the early Week 1 game. The Jets dominated the Lions, winning 48-17. The network’s struggles in Week 2 could be chalked up to the Emmys.
All of those factors make it hard to pinpoint exactly what is going on. ESPN’s ratings are down right now, but “Monday Night Football” is doing pretty well compared to other programs airing at the same time.
Maybe that changes moving forward and maybe it doesn’t. But lower viewership doesn’t necessarily mean ESPN is failing. People are still watching plenty of football.
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