ESPN Scores With 'MNF'

Brett Farve

Fox continued its winning streak on Monday night -- but ESPN's "Monday Night Football" and CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" did a bit of upstaging.

ESPN's "Monday Night Football" offered a much-anticipated game between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers -- with Vikings quarterback Brett Favre playing against his longtime team for the first time. The game earned 21.84 million viewers, the highest viewership ever for a cable TV show.

The previous mark was set a year ago, also an ESPN "Monday Night Football" game -- Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys -- which took in 18.6 million viewers.

TV stations in Minneapolis and Milwaukee, which was simulcast with ESPN, also scored huge results. KTSP-TV Minneapolis had a 40.80 rating, and combined with ESPN, earned 58.3 rating in the market. WISN-TV Milwaukee took a 36.02 rating and a combined 49.7 rating.



All this pushed down some ratings on the broadcast networks. By way of comparison to ESPN's "MNF" 21.8 million viewer total, the top total viewer show on broadcast TV was its sister network ABC's "Dancing with The Stars," which took in 16.4 million.

The best-rated broadcast show among 18-49 viewers was Fox's "House" at 8 p.m., which earned a 5.4 rating/13 share on the night among 18-49 viewers, tops among all broadcast network shows. At the other end of the spectrum, NBC's "Heroes" in the same time frame, came in fourth place with a 2.4/6.

Fox's 9 p.m. show "Lie to Me" was up a bit to a 3.1/7. ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" was at a 3.5/8. CBS' "Two and a Half Men" won the 9 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. half hour with a 4.4/10.

But CBS' biggest earner of the night continues to be "The Big Bang Theory" at 9:30 p.m., which again bested the network's 9 p.m. "Two and a Half Men": "Bang" with a 4.7/11 to "Half"'s 4.4/10. New 8:30 p.m. comedy "Accidentally on Purpose" was at a 2.8/7, down versus a week ago.

For the night, among key 18-49 viewers, Fox was at a 4.2/10; CBS, a 3.9/9; ABC, a 3.1/8; Univision, a 2.7/7; NBC, a 1.9/5; and CW, a 1.1/3.

In later-evening TV network programming "Late Show with David Letterman," on the heels of the alleged blackmailing plot against him and his admittance of sexual relationships with staffers, continued to rocket in the ratings.

In preliminary Nielsen data, "Late Show" posted a 4.2 household rating/10 share, over a rating point better than ABC's "Nightline," which posted a 3.2/7 -- and more than three times the number against the show's more direct competitor, NBC's "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien", at 1.7/4, according to preliminary numbers provided by The Nielsen Co.

"Late Show" not only took top honors among 18-49 viewers -- a 1.3/5 versus a 0.8/3 for "Tonight" in preliminary results -- but "Late Show" tied "Tonight" in younger 18-34 numbers, a 0.6/3.

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