‘MNF’ enters home stretch with solid matchups
Because “Monday Night Football” doesn’t have the flex option, the latter part of its schedule each year is filled with meaningless games that create little buzz and generate unimpressive ratings.
But that’s not the case this season, as the network’s Monday night schedule is filled with games that have playoff implications, including Vikings-Seahawks on Dec. 10 and Saints-Panthers one week later. ESPN executives are crossing their fingers that the Broncos will still be in the hunt on Christmas Eve when the team plays the Raiders.
Through week 13, “Monday Night Football” viewership was up 9 percent, averaging 10.737 million viewers.
“I love our hand coming down the stretch,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN’s executive vice president of programming and scheduling. “That makes all the difference in the back end of the schedule. And if you can get a rivalry game, like we had Dec. 3 with an NFC East matchup — Redskins-Eagles — that had major playoff implications, that’s even better. I never get too excited or too depressed about ratings because it’s a very fickle business.”
Magnus is enjoying “Monday Night Football’s” good fortune this season, adding that it’s impossible to predict which games will draw the biggest ratings. For example, before the season even started, Magnus was most excited about two 49ers games — one against the Packers and one against the Giants.
“With [Jimmy] Garoppolo injured and the 49ers not being the team we hoped they’d be and, obviously, the Giants not playing anywhere near expectations, those ended up not being what we thought they would be,” he said. “But at the same time, you get Chiefs-Rams, which sounded like a pretty good game but not something that you would have thought would have had two 9-1 teams.”