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Last week’s Peyton and Eli Manning’s alternative Monday Night Football broadcast rose 132% week-over-week with an average of 1.86 million viewers. With an increase that substantial, the Mannings left ESPN2’s ratings wiggle room to decline while staying impressive. Instead, Week 3’s Manning-cast of the Cowboys-Eagles matchup drew slightly more viewers than Week 2’s, at 1.89 million.
Meanwhile, the traditional broadcast on ESPN averaged 12.9 million viewers, making it the most-watched Week 3 MNF game since 2012.
Week 3 was Peyton and Eli’s best broadcast yet. And it’s not only thanks to Eli’s double bird that he inaccurately thought the production team could blur out. Of course, that helped and was the night’s best moment. Coming in at No. 2 was Peyton’s anger with Cowboys’ head coach Mike McCarthy’s inexplicable clock management. Angry Peyton is the best Peyton — at least on TV, that is.
Peyton and Eli will work seven more games for ESPN this season and return in three weeks. Expect the fans to miss the Mannings in the meantime. That’s how much of a hit they are for ESPN.
Moreover, it works well that ESPN offers the Mannings at the same time as its main booth because other viewers still want a traditional broadcast. Will Cain made that point Tuesday. The Manning-cast is so good that it is a show itself. At times, it’s even more entertaining than the game on the field. Meaning, if you are emotionally invested in the matchup, the alternative viewing is distracting.
I guess this will be unpopular, but while I like the Manning Cast, I don’t want it for a game where I’m invested in the outcome. I couldn’t watch it with the Cowboys…too removed from what’s happening on the field. I would love to watch it when I have no rooting interest.
— Will Cain (@willcain) September 28, 2021
Finally, ESPN made the right call not pairing Peyton and Eli with a studio host. They don’t need one. A host would only force an unneeded third voice. As great as the guests are, Peyton and Eli are at their best when it’s only the two of them.
All in all, I give the first three weeks of the Manning-cast an A. Comment below with your grade.