ESPN, TNT Share Primetime Crown


ESPN, lifted by its most-watched National Football League game in two years,
and Turner Network Television, bolstered by an original film and a series of
theatricals, were tied for first in last week's primetime basic-cable

ESPN, which registered a 9.1 household rating for its Dec. 16 coverage of the
Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens game, and TNT, which aired Rush
, Austin Powers: Man of Mystery and original movie Pretender:
, both finished with 1.8 averages Dec. 10 through 16.

USA Network, Lifetime Television and Fox News Channel were next, tied with
1.7 household averages, according to a Turner Entertainment Research analysis of
Nielsen Media Research data.

Nickelodeon was sixth in primetime, notching a 1.6.

There was a three-way tie for seventh among TBS Superstation, Cartoon Network
and ABC Family, the latter of which benefited from its '25 Days of Christmas'
stunt. Each network averaged a 1.5.

According to the Turner analysis, Discovery Channel and Cable News Network
rounded out the top 10 with a 1.4 average apiece.

On a total-day basis, Nickelodeon was first with a 1.4 average, trailed by
Lifetime and Cartoon with a 1.1. TBS, TNT and FNC were next, knotted at a

In addition to ESPN's coverage of the Steelers' 26-21 triumph over the
Ravens, the total sports network also had the week's fourth- and fifth-highest
rated shows with NFL PrimeTime (4.2) and SportsCenter (4.0) Dec.

TNN: The National Network's presentation of World Wrestling Federation
Entertainment Inc. fare Dec. 10 pinned the medium's second- (a 5.0 from 10 p.m.
to 11 p.m.) and third-highest-rated (a 4.3 from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.) shows for the

TNT registered a 3.1 household average for its original Pretender film
Dec. 10, as the movie finished as the seventh-highest-rated show last week.

Meanwhile, Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants series took the
remaining spots in the top 10, headed by a 3.2 from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Dec.