ESPN NFL Ratings Ahead 36%


ESPN has exploded out of the gate with its National Football League coverage
this season.

The total sports network scored a 9.6 household rating with its Sept. 8
presentation of the Houston Texans-Dallas Cowboys game. That performance
improved upon the 9.4 delivered by the Sept. 5 season-opener between the San
Francisco 49ers and New York Giants.

ESPN officials said the Texans-Cowboys game was tuned in at some 8.64 million
homes on average, making it basic cable's fifth-most-watched program ever, while
the 49ers-Giants tussle was screened in 8.15 million homes, making it the
medium's ninth most-watched show.

According to ESPN, the Texans-Cowboys contest -- in which the expansionist
Houston franchise defeated 'America's Team,' 19-10 -- was ESPN's and cable's
most-watched program since Dec. 3, 1995, when the Buffalo Bills-49ers matchup on
the network was seen in 8.64 million homes.

After two games, ESPN's NFL audience was up 38 percent in terms of delivery
to 8.25 million homes from 5.96 million a year ago, while ratings grew 36
percent to a 9.5 average from a 7.0 last season.

The NFL games propelled ESPN to the top of the Nielsen Media Research heap in
primetime last week, when the network averaged a 3.4 household rating Sept. 2
through 8.