ESPN scores best ratings ever with Vikings-Skins game

Updated: September 12, 2006, 10:09 PM ET news services

NEW YORK -- ESPN's first regular-season Monday night NFL game under the new contract drew the cable network's biggest audience ever and delivered a major boost to and its new "Monday Night Surround" content.

The game between the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins, won 19-16 by Minnesota, drew a 9.9 rating, representing an average of between nearly 9.2 million and 12.57 million households, the network said. The previous record was 8.9 million households on Christmas Day 1994 for a game between Detroit and Miami.

ESPN's second Monday night game, San Diego's 27-0 win over Oakland, received a rating of 8.5 and was seen in an average of 7.87 million households.

In addition, NFL content on, including "Monday Night Surround," generated more than 36 million page views Monday according to Web measurement tool HitBox.

The first game began at 7 p.m. ET and the second started at 10:15.

"The new media consumer is the bigger viewer of ESPN television. The multimedia success Monday -- the games, the six-hour pre-game, and the interactive experience on -- demonstrates the strong interest Monday Night Football continues to generate," said Artie Bulgrin, ESPN senior vice president, research and sales development.

An estimated 22.6 million viewers watched Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts beat younger brother Eli's New York Giants in NBC's prime-time game on Sunday night.

The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Jacksonville to play the Jaguars on Monday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.