The theme song for Monday Night Football asks fans if they “are ready for some football,” and they clearly are if Week 1 viewership totals were any indication.
Greg Aiello of NFL public relations noted 2015 was the most-watched NFL kickoff weekend ever with an average of 19.9 million viewers per game. Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News put those numbers into context:
Not even an offseason dominated by fatiguing Deflategate conversation turned America from football. Given the slate of intriguing games, it doesn’t come as much surprise.
The Thursday night opener paired the New England Patriots against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a showdown of AFC title contenders. That alone is enough to draw viewers in, but it was also Tom Brady’s first performance following his tumultuous offseason.
What’s more, there were two Monday night games, and the first featured Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles after an offseason of player movement that included the addition of last year’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray and a quarterback swap that brought in Sam Bradford.
There was bound to be plenty of fans interested in whether Kelly’s up-tempo attack would come out firing (it took a half).
The other Monday night game included the San Francisco 49ers with former Australian rugby player Jarryd Hayne. The Daily Telegraph pointed out how many international viewers tuned in to watch San Francisco take on the Minnesota Vikings:
Elsewhere, the Sunday night showdown between the Dallas Cowboys (“America’s Team” ) and the New York Giants from the nation’s largest media market and a rivalry game with the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers moved the needle.
Other sports are bound to draw attention in the coming months with the MLB playoffs, the start of the NBA, college basketball and the NHL and college football heating up, but it is clear the NFL is still king.