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Monday Night Football Hits Four Year Low in Cable TV Ratings

Monday Night Football used to be the flagship game in the NFL week, but since its move to cable TV on ESPN and NBC taking control of the primetime NFL schedule with Sunday Night Football getting the best matchups, the legend of Monday Night Football has dwindled a bit. This year’s Monday Night Football schedule are at a four year low, with the worst ratings since 2008, according to the sports media blog Awful Announcing.

Here are some more details from Awful Announcing:

The highest rated game of the season featured the lone Cowboys appearance on Monday nights this year, with their Week 4 loss to the Bears drawing 16.6 million viewers and a 10.5 rating. That was the final game of a three week stretch that saw ESPN draw at least 15 million viewers an a 10 rating, peaks that ESPN reached for just one game over the season’s final three months (Giants-Redskins, Week 13).

The final 12 weeks of the season were a horror show for ESPN in terms of both pregame hype and on-field competitiveness. From Weeks 5 through 12, seven of the eight games that ESPN aired featured a team that currently has at least nine losses, with Week 11’s Bears-49ers matchup being the lone outlier. Over the season’s final three months, there were just two games on the slate featuring potential playoff teams: the aforementioned Bears-49ers matchup, and Week 13’s Texans-Patriots game.

ESPN also banked on perennially good teams having good years and bringing in ratings, a formula that has worked in the past. Well, the Jets and Eagles were on Monday Night Football twice each, and have combined for 20 losses this year. The Lions were a great story last year, were featured twice, and have lost 11 games. The Chargers were on twice, and have 9 losses.

Only 9 of the 17 games aired were decided by one score, and 4 ended up being decided by at least 20 points. Contrast that to Sunday Night Football, which had 11 games decided by one score and 3 being decided by at least 20 points, and Thursday Night Football, which featured 4 close games and 3 blowouts in their expanded slate, and you can see that ESPN drew the short straw this year.

Still, even though Monday Night Football suffered in the ratings this year, it is commonly the most watched program on cable television in a given week, and a valuable piece of ESPN’s live sports puzzle and their deal with the NFL. Don’t look for anything to change anytime soon.

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