Quarterback Lamar Jackson # 8 of the Baltimore Ravens throws the Las Vegas Raiders in the first half of their game at Allegiant Stadium on September 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Chris Unger | Getty Images
The National Football League finished the first week of their 2021 regular season with an average of 15.29 million viewers via ESPN channels, including the ABC Network, for the Monday Night Football opener between the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens.
The Raiders defeated the Ravens 33-21 in a multi-twist back and forth dubbed game to complete Week 1. and San Diego.
The 2020 MNF competition between the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers drew an average of just 10.76 million viewers. Since the pandemic plays a role, that game was down about 17% compared to the first game of ESPN’s week 1 double header of 2019 that featured and averaged the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans 13.2 million viewers on ESPN channels.
On Monday, ESPN also debuted its alternative MegaCast with Peyton and Eli Manning commenting on the Raiders-Ravens game on his ESPN2 channel. The show drew 800,000 viewers. The Manning brothers co-signed a three-year contract Disney-Own ESPN where the couple share their thoughts and breakdowns in-game during the NFL season.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) finds a gap in the line against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 12 at GEHA field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
William Purnell | Sportswire icon | Getty Images
In the meantime, the national NFL game is on Sunday ViacomCBS averaged with the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs 19.53 million viewers. It was the most-watched national game on the opening weekend on CBS since the 2015 opener between the Ravens and the Denver Broncos (23.28 million viewers).
Fox Sports’ average of 16.23 million viewers for the national game Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints. That’s less than last year’s national opener between the Saints and Tampa Bay Bucs, which featured a star quarterback match between Drew Brees and Tom Brady and averaged 25.8 million viewers.
The network kicked off the NFL kick-off after drawing 7.7 million viewers for its Saturday game between Oregon and Ohio State College.
The NFL began its 102nd season last Thursday with an average of 26 million viewers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys competition. NBC said the game peaked between 9:45 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. ET with 25.4 million viewers on television. The kick-off in 2021 marked a 20% increase in total viewers compared to last year’s NFL kickoff with the Chiefs and Texans.
Overall, the NFL stated that the combined first week games had an average of 17.4 million viewers and totaled “approximately” 100 million viewers across all games.
Disclosure: NBC Sports, which parent company NBCUniversal shares with CNBC, broadcasts NFL games.