It turns out that ESPN dedicated a week of hype to Brett Favre and the "Monday Night Football" showdown between the Vikings and Packers because that's what the American people wanted to see. [And not just to torture the apparent minority of us who weren't so enamored.]

Monday (Oct. 5) night's gridiron matchup averaged 21.8 million viewers, to go with a 15.3 rating. That represented the biggest audience in cable television history and (not surprisingly) the highest ratings in ESPN's history.

The previous cable viewership record was held by last September's "MNF" game between the Eagles and Cowboys, which drew 18.6 million viewers.

As you might imagine, the "MNF" game was Monday's most watched primetime program in households and viewers, as well as all key male and adult demos. 

"Last night's record-setting performance clearly demonstrates that big events on ESPN deliver big audiences with content across all our platforms," says ESPN President George Bodenheimer. "In its 40th season, 'Monday Night Football' remains a special place to showcase the NFL's best."

As it stands now, the three most watched cable programs in history (in total viewers) are now a trio of "MNF" telecasts. Number four? "High School Musical 2," of course.