Leading up to this past week's game Monday Night Football had been killing in the ratings. ESPN was fresh off the most viewed cable audience of all time. Then came the "Mike Vick Bowl" this past Monday. The ratings were so dreadfully low that it tied the lowest rated game since ESPN took over the franchise last year.
What's the problem with all of this? Well it turns out that while ESPN is racking up some of the most viewed games of the year, the few terrible games (NO-ATL, MIA-PITT, SEA-SF) have actually hurt them for the year.
According to Sports Business Daily ESPN a Nielsen average of 8.1 which is down 12% from last year's 9.9. With only CHI-MIN and DEN-SD left on the Season Schedule it seems unlikely they'll be able to make up the difference and top last year.
In all fairness all networks (Primetime or not), but CBS are down from last year and that's largely due to the Network getting a 20+ rating for the Pats-Colts game earlier in the year. NBC is actually down 9% from last year and could surpass 2005's Monday Night Football for the lowest rated season of any Primetime Football Program. But again, the Flex Scheduling will probably not let that happen.
Obviously it depends entirely on the matchups each year, and this year has been so crazy that the games picked before the Season didn't turn out to be so great as originally thought. I can now understand why other Networks would be up in arms over the Flex Scheduling leeway that NBC gets.