ESPN Scores Ratings Win with Football

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ESPN rode the ratings glow of its National Football League programming to first place in basic cable’s primetime ratings race last week.

Bolstered by the week’s highest-rated show -- a 7.7 mark for its Sept. 19 Miami Dolphins-Cincinnati Bengals telecast -- as well as top 10 finishes for its NFL PrimeTime pregame show and its NFL postgame SportsCenter telecast, ESPN finished the week ranked first with a 2.3 rating Sept. 13-19, according to a Disney/ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

USA Network and Fox News Channel finished tied for second with 1.9 ratings, while Turner Network Television posted a 1.8 mark to finish fourth.

On the strength of a record-breaking viewership week due in part to a weeklong marathon stunt for sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Nick at Nite finished with a 1.7 rating, tied for fifth place with Cartoon Network.

Lifetime Television and Disney Channel (tied with a 1.6); The Weather Channel and Spike TV (knotted with a 1.3); and A&E Network, TBS and Sci Fi Channel (all tied at 1.1) rounded out the top 10.

The aforementioned Nick at Nite Fresh Prince Sept. 13-16 marathon helped the network to draw a record 1.6 million total viewers, besting the 1.5 million it drew in March 2002 for a Cosby Show marathon.