The NFL’s 2011 Kickoff Weekend continues tonight when Monday Night Football begins its 42nd season with a doubleheader: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (7 PM ET) and the Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (10:15 PM ET) on ESPN.
Monday Night Football has been on ESPN since 2006 following 36 years on ABC. ESPN and the NFL last week signed a deal that would keep Monday Night Football on the sports network through 2014.
Play-by-play commentator Mike Tirico and analysts Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski, returning for their third season together, will call the Patriots-Dolphins game. Brad Nessler and NFL studio analyst Trent Dillfer will handle the Raiders-Broncos.
ESPN Deportes will offer a Spanish-language production of both Monday Night Football games.
Before the NFL takes over, the 2011 U.S. Open will conclude on a Monday for the fourth consecutive year due to rain. No. 1 Novak Djokovic will face No. 2 and defending U.S. Open champ Rafael Nadal beginning at 4 PM (ET) on CBS. Two men also faced off in the 2010 men’s U.S. Open finals.
MLB Network has a pair of national games tonight, both beginning at 8 PM (ET): Philadelphia Phillies visiting the Houston Astros, and the Chicago White Sox hosting the Detroit Tigers.
During the past five seasons, ESPN’s Monday Night Football has become the most-watched series in cable television history, registering eight of cable’s 10 all-time biggest household audiences and 16 of the top 20 (excluding breaking news), according to ESPN.
In 2010, Monday Night Football ranked eighth among all prime time programs (broadcast or cable), averaging 10.5 million homes (14.7 million viewers). In addition, an estimated 140 million people viewed Monday Night Football and NFL studio programming on ESPN/ESPN2 over the course of the 2010 NFL season.