The NFL showdown between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills was postponed to the first quarter after Bills safety center Dummer Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field, but it remains the most-watched game in ESPN history. averaging 23.8 for the “Monday Night Football” telecast. According to preliminary assessment, 1 million viewers.
Nielsen said Wednesday that an average of 23,788,000 viewers watched the broadcast on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 from around 8:30 p.m. to 10:09 p.m. This massive viewership has made the “Monday Night Football” broadcast the most-watched since the NFL moved the series to ESPN in 2006, and his 2,180 in the 2009 Packers vs. Vikings game. It surpassed the previous record of 10,000 viewers.
But Monday’s high-profile game was interrupted when Hamlin fell in the first quarter shortly after an open-field tackle on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin recovered his heart rate on the field and is currently in critical condition in a Cincinnati hospital.
According to Nielsen’s ratings, ESPN averaged 21.1 million viewers while the game was playing. Then, between 9:00 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., when ESPN aired the news coverage of Hamlin’s collapse, its viewership increased to 23.9 million.
A spokesperson for ESPN told CNN Wednesday that it was not clear if viewership figures would be factored into season averages or used for historical purposes, given the special circumstances surrounding Monday’s game. rice field.
Following Hamlin’s injury, ESPN quickly interrupted its commercials and continued the broadcast for over an hour to report on Hamlin’s injury awaiting communication from the NFL on whether the game would resume.
ESPN has been lauded for its sober and cautious reporting that avoided speculation about the cause of Hamlin’s horrific injuries, but the network cautioned against interviewing medical experts about what its millions of viewers witnessed. specially selected.
Veteran “SportsCenter” anchor Scott Van Pelt, who anchored the show after the game, told CNN the decision was made to focus strictly on the facts of what happened.
“My personal preference was that I didn’t want to bring doctors in for speculation,” Van Pelt said. “It’s totally looking the other side that a well-trained doctor’s eye might recognize something that might make perfect sense. But I just didn’t want to speculate.”
Before Hamlin’s devastating injury, the game was expected to be one of the most watched Monday night football games in ESPN history. The Bills (12-3) faced the defending AFC champion Bengals (11-4), with both teams hoping to clinch the number one seed in the division.
The NFL has yet to announce when teams will resume postponed games.