Even an unpromising NFC West matchup between the 6-6 San Francisco 49ers and the 8-4 Arizona Cardinals didn’t scare off pro football diehards, as ESPN’s latest installment of Monday Night Football held its own.
The Dec. 14 telecast drew 13.1 million viewers, slightly below ESPN’s season average, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data. Through 15 MNF contests, ESPN is averaging 14.4 million viewers, up 20 percent from this time a year ago.
The 49ers beat the defending NFC champs 24-9, robbing the Cardinals of their first shot at clinching the division. Arizona signal caller Kurt Warner was a dud, following the best four-game stretch of his career with 16 pass completions in 29 attempts, two interceptions, four sacks and a woeful 44.9 QB rating.
As has been the case with each of its MNF telecasts, ESPN on Monday won all key males demos, as well as viewers 18-34. The 49ers-Cards game now stands as the year’s tenth most-watched program on cable.