ESPN Runs Away In Primetime

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ESPN, buoyed by its first season-opening Monday Night Football doubleheader, the last regular-season game between baseball rivals New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox and college football action, easily led the basic-cable ratings competition last week,

The total sports network tackled a 3.3 household ratings average in primetime the week of  Sept. 10 through Sept. 16, a full point higher than second-place USA Network’s 2.3 mark, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. In addition to the strength of the WWE Raw franchise on Sept. 10, the characters network scored with the season-ending shows of Monk and Psych on Sept. 14 that drew over 5 million and 4.2 million viewers, respectively

Drama proponent TNT, which benefited from a basic-cable series record 9.2 million viewers who tuned in the third-season finale of Kyra Segdwick series The Closer, plus 5.2 million more for lead-out Saving Grace on Sept. 10, and Disney Channel were tied for third with a 2.1 average.

There was another sizable gap to the next group in the Nielsen heat: Fox News Channel, Lifetime Television, TBS and HGTV were knotted in fifth place, each with a 1.3 average for the week.

FX was ninth at a 1.2, a step ahead of the 1.1 average for Cartoon Network, A&E Network, Court TV and Hallmark Channel.

The first game of ESPN’s Sept. 10 MNF doubleheader, the Baltimore Ravens against the Cincinnati Bengals, was the top show for the week, attracting 11.1 million viewers. The nightcap between the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers was third for the week with 8.5 million viewers and fifth for basic cable year to date. However, that game marked the low Nielsen point with its MNF franchise.

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