ESPN Scores Ratings Win with Football


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.