ESPN and Fox Off to Record-Setting NFL Ratings Starts

Intriguing Philadelphia-Washington matchup easily earns cabler's top Week 1 overnight score

The much-anticipated opening-week “Monday Night Football” matchup between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles gave ESPN its highest rating yet for its first game of the season. And that came one day after Fox’s late-afternoon national game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers set a network for that record.

Preliminary total-viewer estimates weren’t available early Tuesday, but the Eagles’ 33-27 victory over their division rival (pictured above) was watched in 11.6% of U.S. homes, according to Nielsen. This is up sharply from the 8.1 overnight rating for last year’s Cincinnati-Baltimore opener and is the top Week 1 overnight score in the eight years that ESPN has had the “MNF” package.

The previous high came in 2010, a 10.5 overnight rating for Baltimore and the New York Jets. The 11.6 matches the highest overnight score for any “MNF” game last season for ESPN, with the top rating in 2012 coming from an early October game between Dallas and Chicago.

In Philadelphia, last night’s game delivered an 11.0 rating on ESPN and a 24.1 rating on ABC station WPVI, for a combined 35.1 rating in the market. And in D.C., the game earned a 22.3 rating on ESPN and a 16.5 rating on independent station WDCA, for a combined 38.8 rating in the market.

The game marked the first time that Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III had played in any game since a nasty injury took him out of last year’s playoffs in his strong rookie season. And for the Eagles, the game was the first for former U. of Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who unveiled his extreme up-tempo style of play-calling to good effect.

Over at Fox, its 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday window, with Green Bay-San Francisco going to 94% of the country, averaged a big 16.6 national household rating/31 share and 28.5 million viewers overall — up from last year, when the same matchup drew 26.4 million. This is the largest Week 1 doubleheader audience for Fox since it began broadcasting the NFL in 1994.

It was also the largest audience for any program since the Academy Awards on ABC in late February.

NBC had a very strong week in primetime too, with its Thursday opener between Baltimore and Denver averaging 25.1 million, and its premiere of “Sunday Night Football” drew 25.3 million.

More TV

  • Curb Your Enthusiasm

    'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Music: How the Italian Tuba March Found Its Way to Larry David

    When “Curb Your Enthusiasm” returns for its much-anticipated 10th season it does so with it a musical theme that’s a prime example of recognizable sonic branding and has become synonymous with comedy in our complicated times: “Frolic” by composer Luciano Michelini. But surprisingly, this comic march for tuba, mandolin and piano wasn’t specifically written for [...]

  • Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Lee Jeong-eun,

    SAG Awards 2020: The Biggest Snubs and Surprises

    The Screen Actors Guild Awards are always the first peer group ceremony of the new year, giving those who make films and television series the chance to celebrate each other. Going into the 26th annual ceremony, which took place Jan. 19, the nominees were a mix of industry veterans and beloved favorite and some newer-comers, [...]

  • Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile backstageAmericana

    Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile Set as Dynamic Duo for Grammys

    Country legend Tanya Tucker and her producer, Brandi Carlile, will perform together on the Grammys  in one week, both singers announced on their respective social media accounts Sunday. Wrote Carlile: “Let’s. do. this.” (One of the first responses on Carlile’s Instagram came from a fellow Seattle musician, Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron: “Hell yes!”) “I wanted you [...]

  • The Mandalorian Baby Yoda

    Baby Yoda Roots for Green Bay Packers in NFC Championship Game

    Baby Yoda is a Cheeesehead. Disney chief Bob Iger tapped the breakout star of “The Mandalorian” to show his support for the Green Bay Packers just as the NFL’s NFC Championship Game got underway on Sunday evening. The Packers are battling the San Francisco 49ers for a shot at the Super Bowl. The Kansas City [...]

  • Jennifer Aniston

    SAG Awards: The Complete Winners List

    Korean thriller “Parasite” made history at the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, becoming the first foreign-language film to win best motion picture cast. Netflix’s “The Crown” was named best TV drama and Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” nabbed best TV comedy. In a repeat of the Golden Globes, Renee Zellweger (“Judy”)  and [...]

  • Prince Harry

    Prince Harry Breaks Silence on Royal Split: 'There Was No Other Option'

    Prince Harry has broken his silence on his break with the royal family, saying there was “no other option” for him and wife Meghan Markle. Speaking at a dinner in central London held for his Sentebale charity supporting children with HIV in southern Africa, the Duke of Sussex said it brings him “great sadness that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content