Football Boosts ESPN; Wizard Boosts TBS


Football was the big winner for ESPN last week, but timeless classic The Wizard of Oz helped to push TBS into the fourth spot in the primetime ratings.

Led by National Football League action Sunday night and a key college matchup Saturday, ESPN averaged a 2.5 household rating Nov. 15-22, topping the 2.1 produced by Turner Network Television.

The drama network scored well with the latest iteration of its “Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation” film franchise, earning a 3.5 mark (good for a tie for seventh for the week) with The Wool Cap, starring William H. Macy in the telepic remake of Jackie Gleason theatrical Gigot.

USA Network was third for the week with a 2.0, according to a Disney-ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. Aided by a trio of airings of The Wizard of Oz, TBS was fourth at a 1.8. Nick at Nite and Fox News Channel were tied for fifth, each with a 1.7 mark.

Rounding out the top 10 were Cartoon Network, which received a strong start from new Friday-night entry Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi, with a 1.6; Lifetime Television with a 1.5; Disney Channel at a 1.4; and Spike TV with a 1.3.

On a total-programming-day basis, Nickelodeon was first with a 1.8, well ahead of the 1.2 earned by TNT. Cartoon and ESPN were next, both averaging a 1.1. There was a logjam for the fifth spot among Lifetime, USA, TBS and Fox News, all of which generated 1.0 ratings.

As for the key adult demos, ESPN made it a clean sweep among the 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 sets. The total-sports network tackled 840,000 of the younger group on average, while scoring with 1.49 million of the advertiser-coveted 18-49 crowd. Among the older-adult set, ESPN averaged 1.53 million watchers last week, according to a Turner Entertainment Research analysis of Nielsen data.

TBS placed second in all three of these categories counting 614,000, nearly 1.3 million and 1.25 million watchers in the respective groups.

TNT, with 1.03 million adults 18-49 and 1.09 million 25-54 watchers, came in third. MTV: Music Television took the bronze among adults 18-34 with 479,000 of those viewers on average.

ESPN’s NFL game Nov. 21 between the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans was the highest-rated show of the week, with an 8.3 household average, followed by the 4.4 generated by college football’s Florida-FloridaState showdown the night before.

The Wizard of Oz, meanwhile, touched down in Kansas and elsewhere for TBS to the tune of a 2.8 Nov. 19, a 2.7 the next night and a 2.6 Nov. 21.