ESPN Sacks Weekly Primetime Competition With Record ‘MNF’ Matchup


Boosted by cable’s largest-ever live telecast, ESPN easily won cable’s primetime race last week, a full rating point above Fox News Channel.

The total sports network averaged a 3.3 household rating and 4.46 million viewers from Sept. 15 through Sept. 21, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. The totals were fueled by the 13.3 rating and 18.6 million viewers ESPN scored with it with its coverage of the Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles Monday Night Football game on Sept. 15. 

ESPN  also scored with a pair of college football contests that ranked third and 14th  for the week, as well as the ceremony saluting Yankee Stadium and the final baseball game played at the venerable venue on Sept. 21, which played before 3.08 million watchers.

Fox News Channel, lifted by Sean Hannity’s two-part interview with Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin -- the Sept. 17 Hannity & Colmes was fourth for the week with 492 million viewers, while the next night was sixth with 4.59 million --  was second with a 2.3 household average and 2.75 million watchers on average.

TNT, scoring with the fourth season finale of The Closer -- cable’s top series was second for the week with 7.63 million watchers on Sept. 15 -- was third last week with a 2.0 household mark. Averaging 2.53 million watchers, the drama network also benefited from the latest episode of rookie legal show Raising The Bar, as The Closer’s lead-out was ninth for the period with 4.21 million watchers.  

USA, which showcased the sophomore season finale of Burn Notice that drew 4.67 million on Sept. 18, good for seventh, was fourth last week, pulling a 1.9 and 2.58 million watchers.

Ad-free Disney Channel was fifth with a 1.8 rating and 2.24 million viewers, while Nick at Nite was sixth with a 1.4 and 1.73 million viewers. TBS and Lifetime were next at a 1.3 average, which yielded 1.77 million and 1.73 million watchers, respectively. The women’s targeted network’s hit series,Army Wives stood up quite well against ABC’s coverage of the 60th Annual Primetime Emmys Sunday night, with 4.4 million watchers, including its second-best count with women 18 to 49 (1.95 million).

There was a four-way logjam to round out the top 10 as CNN (1.36 million), A&E (1.35 million), Cartoon Network (1.35 million) and Hallmark Channel (1.23 million) all averaged a 1.1 household rating.

ESPN also held the top spot with the advertiser-coveted, adult 18-to-49 set, garnering 2.29 million of those watchers on average. USA was second with 1.38 million, TNT third with 1.08 million, TBS fourth with 971,000 and FX fifth with 749,000.

The remainder of the top 10 among adults 18 to 49: A&E (709,000), Lifetime (671,000), Spike TV (640,000, Nick at Nite (612,000) and Sci Fi Channel (607,000).