The NFL showdown on Monday between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills was the most-watched “Monday Night Football” telecast in ESPN history, according to preliminary ratings.
The game was postponed in the first quarter after Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field,
Nielsen said Wednesday that the broadcast had an average of 23,788,000 viewers across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 from approximately 8:30 pm to 10:09 pm. The massive audience makes it the most-watched “Monday Night Football” broadcast since the NFL moved the series to ESPN in 2006, surpassing the previous record of 21.8 million viewers for a Packers-Vikings game in 2009.
During game play, ESPN averaged 21.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings. That audience then grew to 23.9 million viewers between 9 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. when ESPN aired news coverage of Hamlin’s collapse.
An ESPN spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday that, given the special circumstances around Monday’s game, it was not clear whether the viewership numbers would be factored into the season average or used for historical purposes.