ESPN kicks off its ‘Monday Night Football’ era with Joe Buck-Troy Aikman with a massive ratings win

ESPN paid a heavy price for the high-profile “Monday Night Football” podium for Joe Buck and Troy Ekman. After a week, returns look good.

The Monday night game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks was ESPN’s most-watched MFP match since 2009 and the third-best regular season game since it took over the time period from ABC in 2006, The network announced Tuesday.

Between ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPN+, and ESPN Deportes, 19,845,000 viewers were tuned in to the game.

It was both of the other two regular games with more viewers in 2009, with 21.8 million tuned in for the Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers (Brett Favre’s return to Green Bay) and 21.4 million watching the New Orleans Saints 10-0 game New England Patriots. The recent Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles game saw an additional 20.2 million viewers.

ESPN landed Troy Aikman and Joe Buck some big money last season. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/WireImage)

The opening game of “Monday Night Football” on ESPN helped beyond Joe Buck and Troy Aikman

This is all very encouraging for ESPN, which gave Aikman and Buck (a) reported combined 165 million To jump over from Fox Sports. Of course, the ratings win isn’t just due to the pair, as the game itself clearly provided the compelling story of Russell Wilson’s first week return to Seattle after his blockbuster trade last season.

The highly anticipated match ended in drama and controversy (two ESPN favorites), as new Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett. He made the baffling decision to attempt a 64-yard field goal instead of going for him in fourth and fifth. Kicker Brandon McManus, who has never scored a field goal longer than 61 yards in his career, has missed the left wide.

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After a whole night of criticism, Hackett admitted that he “definitely” should have gone for her on Tuesday.

Also helping in the number was ESPN2’s “Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli,” which drew 1,502,000 viewers, an 86 percent increase from its first week debut last year, according to ESPN.

ESPN will try to build on that momentum next week with a double-billed “Monday Night Football,” which features Buck and Aikman at the Minnesota Vikings- Philadelphia Eagles game at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC and last year’s crew consisting of Steve Levy and Dan Orlovsky, Louis Redick tackles the Tennessee Titans-Buffalo Bills at 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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