Despite a double-digit drop, ESPN led basic cable in primetime during November.
The total-sports network averaged a 2.2 household rating from Nov. 1-28, according to a Disney-ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data, off 12% from the 2.5 ESPN posted in November 2003.
Turner Network Television was second for the month, notching an 11% increase to a 2.0 average. USA Network, ahead 6%, and Fox News Channel, which grew 58%, were tied for fourth with a 1.9.
Fox News’ growth was sparked by its coverage of the presidential election. All told, network executives said it had the top 11 highest-rated news shows on cable for the period overall.
Nick at Nite earned a 1.7 household rating to finish fifth, ahead of Lifetime Television (up 7%), Cartoon Network (up 7%) and Disney Channel (down 6%), all of which punched in with 1.6 marks in primetime.
TBS, flat at a 1.5, and Spike TV -- buoyed by the inclusion of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in its lineup, which resulted in a 56% jump to a 1.4 average -- rounded out the top 10.
Gauged on a total-programming-day basis, Nickelodeon, ahead 6%, was the runaway leader with a 1.9 household average, even though TNT and Cartoon both grew 9% to a 1.2.
Fox News (57%), Lifetime (even) and Disney (off 8%) were next, each with a 1.1, according to the Disney-ABC Cable analysis.