Ratings live up to ‘Favre-a-palooza' hype

The Vikings and Packers were expected to draw a huge television audience, but it was even bigger than expected, breaking records on many levels.

As expected, the Vikings-Packers game Monday night and the first matchup between Brett Favre and his former Green Bay teammates was of interest to far more than just the locals. On Tuesday, it was announced that the game not only broke the record for ESPN's Monday Night Football, it shattered it and broke record for a cable audience for any show.

Monday's game was watched by an estimated 21.8 million people. That not only broke the record for ESPN's football coverage, a mark of 18.6 million set last year when Philadelphia played Dallas, it became the most watched cable television program of all time.

It also was announced that the 15.3 rating pulled in by the game broke the record for ESPN's all-time market share, a mark of 14.4 set by the Vikings-Bears game Dec. 6, 1987, when there were far fewer channels on cable systems to serve as competition. 1987 was ESPN's first year of broadcasting NFL football.

Even more impressive was the local TV numbers, in which KSTP Channel 5 and ESPN combined to draw a 58.3 rating, which was 15 ratings points higher than the Super Bowl. With 1.7 million households assigned to the Twin Cities market by the Nielsen corporation, more than one million of those households were tuned into the game – a mammoth number that may never be touched again unless the Vikings make the Super Bowl. Similar numbers were posted in Milwaukee, where watching Favre play the Packers did a 49.7 rating.

With all the hype surrounding the game and buzz that it could break existing records, not only did the game meet and exceed those expectations, but it actually gave fans a game that lived up to the hype.


  • The Vikings resume practice today in preparation for the St. Louis Rams Sunday. Because of the lateness of the Monday game, practice will be this afternoon and players will be available for comment until after 4 p.m. local time.

  • ESPN is apparently in the skin trade as well as the sports media business. In the next issue of its bimonthly magazine, the cover story deals with the bodies of athletes. Tennis player Serena Williams is naked but posed in such a way as to not require a brown paper wrapper for delivery of the magazine. Adrian Peterson is on one of five regional covers and, according to the photographer assigned the A.P. photo shoot, he became more comfortable with his body as the shoot went on – going from black running shorts to lighter colored boxer briefs to show off his body. The magazine hits newsstands today.

  • Former Vikings assistant Sherman Lewis has been hired as a consultant for the Washington Redskins. Redskins head coach Jim Zorn has been under fire in recent weeks and a call for his firing has come from the fan base in the nation's capital. It is believed that Lewis could be waiting in the wings in the event Zorn is fired during the season and, in the short term, will help Jason Campbell operate the West Coast Offense out of the shotgun.

  • Former Vikings linebacker Vinny Ciurciu worked out with the Lions Tuesday. He was one of a seven-player cattle call at the workout, but was the only linebacker among the group.

  • After their brutal line performance Monday, the Packers brought in former Packer offensive tackle Mark Tauscher for a workout. Tauscher, who wasn't in training camp following knee surgery last year, is likely to not only be signed, but moved into the starting lineup ahead of right tackle Allen Barbre.

  • What must Packers fans be thinking about their old former green and gold heroes? Not only did Favre win NFC Offensive Player of the Week, former Packer Darren Sharper was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

  • It is wide receiver Wednesday around the NFL, as the San Francisco 49ers have finally reached an agreement with first-round pick Michael Crabtree and the Cleveland Browns have traded disgruntled wideout Braylon Edwards to the Jets.

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