The debut of the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens during halftime of ESPN's live-stream of the New York Giants-Philadelphia Eagles matchup helped the sports network score its third-biggest online audience ever for Monday Night Football.
WatchESPN logged 670,000 unique viewers during the game, a 96 percent increase compared to Week 6 Monday Night Football in 2014, and saw an additional 214,000 average impressions per minute, an 89 percent increase over last year.
ESPN partly credited anticipation around the new Star Wars trailer for the boost in viewership. Under standard TV ratings, viewership peaked in the 15 minutes leading up to halftime with a 10.7 household rating and 16.9 million broadcast viewers, and averaged a 9.7 rating and 15.88 million viewers during the 15 minutes halftime segment which included the debut of the trailer.
The network didn't break out online viewership numbers during those time periods.
But Star Wars alone isn't responsible for the network's higher online numbers. ESPN's digital platforms have steadily built an audience over the past year. The network noted that Sunday's online audience was the fifth-best for ESPN Digital Platforms, which include ESPN.com, ESPN apps and WatchESPN. Viewer numbers increased 2 percent on Sunday to 38.87 million unique visitors.
The month of September was WatchESPN's most-streamed month outside of the World Cup, the network said in an earlier release. ESPN broke its own viewership record in September with 95.4 million unique visitors, who watched a cumulative 10.3 billion minutes of sports on its digital platforms.
- see this ESPN post
Reported ESPN layoffs signal deep disruption in top sports network
Where Netflix, YouTube and HBO Now fit in the OTT industry
'Star Wars' movies finally available online... but not on Netflix
YouTube goes after sports fans with Turner March Madness channel