Comedy Central Xmas Special Sets Network Viewership Record

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Comedy Central received an early holiday ratings gift with its Nov. 16 show Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special, which drew a network record 6.6 million viewers.

The special, which stars comedian Jeff Dunham and his cast of puppet characters, bested the 6.2 million viewers who tuned into a 1998 episode of South Park, according to the network.

Dunham's record-breaking performance powered Comedy Central to its best week since June 2006 with a 0.8 prime time rating among its target 18-49 audience, a 61% gain versus the same period in 2007, according to the network.

The show also ranked second among all cable shows during the week of Nov. 10-16, behind only the 11.8 million viewers who tuned into ESPN’s Nov. 10 San Francisco 49ers-St. Louis Cardinals Monday Night Football telecast. Two other live football games—ESPN’s Nov. 15 Alabama-Mississippi State college football game (4.9 million) and NFL Network’s Nov. 13 New York Jets-New England Patriots telecast (4.4 million)—finished third and ninth, respectively, among the top 10 most-watched shows of the week.

Kids-targeted programming also fared well with Nickelodeon’s original movie iGo to Japan (4.8 million) taking the fourth spot, and Disney Channel’s original episodes of Hannah Montana (4.6 million) and Suite Life On Deck (4.45 million) finishing in sixth and eighth place, respectively.

USA Network took the remaining three slots with two episodes of WWE Raw and an episode of NCIS.  

ESPN finished first among basic cable networks with a 2.6 household rating, besting both Fox News and USA Network, which tied with a 2.0 rating. Disney Channel (1.7) and TBS (1.4) rounded out the top five networks for the week, according to Nielsen.