NFL Week 1 ratings up 7% over last season

8:36 PM ET

ESPN News Services

The NFL’s kickoff weekend ended up having the second-highest TV ratings for Week 1 over the past five seasons.

The 16 games averaged 17.4 million viewers on television and digital properties. That is a 7% increase over last season (16.3 million average) and nearly equal to 2019, which averaged 17.6 million and remains the highest since 2017.

The numbers were likely to increase after last season was played during the pandemic, with empty stadiums presenting a strange viewing dynamic, and many people’s viewing habits changing. The first half of the season also occurred in the midst of a presidential campaign, when some people were watching cable news channels.

NFL games ranked as the top six broadcasts for the past week. Nearly 23.2 billion minutes were viewed, making it the largest Week 1 minutes total since 2016.

ESPN and Nielsen reported that the Monday night overtime thriller between the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens averaged 15.3 million on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. It is the most watched Monday Night Football Week 1 game since 2013, when Philadelphia at Washington averaged 16.5 million. That included 800,000 for the Mannings Megacast featuring Peyton and Eli on ESPN2.

The most-watched game of the

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