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ESPN‘s ’11 MNF season kicked off with a double-header and solid ratings. The Patriots-Dolphins contest while the Raiders-Broncos matchup. Off the field, ESPN continues to get excoriated for its extension of the franchise ( Cfax, 9/9) due to the assumption—many would say foregone conclusion—that the company will hike its sub fees as a result of the deal, leading to higher pay TV prices for consumers. ACA pres/CEO Matt Polka took to the airwaves Tues morning, telling ESPN 1080-AM (yes, an ESPN affil) in Orlando that "ESPN knows they have this sports programming they can push down to the subscriber… ultimately they’re going to have to deal with a la carte and they’re not going to like it." Polka foresees an ESPN fee hike of 75 cents-$1/month, meaning the fee would approach $6. It’s widely believed that DISH, if anyone, will be the 1st op to challenge ESPN by dropping the net if costs continue to accelerate. ESPN and Disney maintain the net provides unparalleled value to ops, and that NFL content greatly enhances that value. One thing’s for sure: during the NFL season no cable telecast approaches MNF football in delivery among 18-49s. Last season’s opening double header, for example, averaged 7.73mln in the demo, well ahead of 3rd place "Teen Mom" on MTV (2.71mln). MNF is also responsible for cable’s 2nd most-watched telecast of all time (21.84mln total viewers).

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