‘Monday Night Football’ Viewership Surged Amid Coverage Of Tragic Damar Hamlin Collapse

As the Buffalo BillsDamar Hamlin condition improves from his January 2 on-field cardiac arrest, Monday Night Football amassed one of its largest viewerships ever this week.

The primetime Week 17 match-up between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals drew an audience of 23.8 million over ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 according to Nielsen.

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Those results were measured in the 8:30 PM to 10:09 PM ET time period by the data company.

While a record breaker in terms of the combined numbers, this week’s MNF snared 9.1M viewers on ESPN and 11M viewers on ABC, with the remainder coming from ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and digital properties. By comparison, the December 26 simulcast game between the Indianapolis Colts and the LA Chargers was seen by an audience of 10.9 million on ESPN alone.

However, having said that, this season, the 17th year MNF has been on Disney-owned outlets, has seen a number of records smashed. The September 26 battle between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants had a viewership of 19.3 million across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes – the best Week 3 ever for the franchise since 2006 and the now fifth most watched MNF overall of the Disney-era.

Before the January 2nd game, the most watched MNF was the 21.8 million who tuned into ESPN alone on October 5, 2009 as Brett Favre and Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers 30-23 in what is widely assessed as a legendary game.

Already anticipated as one of the most important games of the season, this week’s MNF clash between the AFC East champion Bills and playoff certainties the Bengals was suspended less than 15 minutes into the first quarter at Paycor Stadium when the 24-year old safety went down on live TV after tackling Bengals’ receiver Tee Higgins

With the Bengals leading 7-3, play ceased as Hamlin was tended to by medical staff from the Bills and local paramedics with CPR and an IV, among other methods. Again on live TV, Hamlin was eventually transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

The game was formally postponed that night and put on hold by the NFL on January 3. With a ripple effect across the entire league as this season moves towards the playoffs and February 13’s Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, the game has not been rescheduled yet.

Though doctors reported Thursday that Hamlin is alert and communicating via writing, the Pennsylvania native remains hospitalized and on a  a ventilator in the intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

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