NFL, MLB Drive ESPN to Oct. Win

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The National Football League and Major League Baseball’s National League playoffs between the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs helped to rocket ESPN to No. 1 in the primetime ratings in October, according to Nielsen Media Research data released Tuesday.

ESPN scored a 2.4 primetime household rating in the period from Sept. 29-Oct. 26, according to Nielsen data supplied by ABC Cable Networks Group.

The sports network, which scored a 41% increase in ratings, was followed in primetime by Disney Channel with a 1.9 (up 36%), while Turner Network Television (up 13%) and Nickelodeon (up 6%) tied for third place with 1.8 ratings. Sharing the No. 4 slot were USA Network and Cartoon Network, each registering a 13% gain to tally a 1.7 rating. Lifetime Television followed with a 1.6 (down 11%), while The Learning Channel (up 19%) and TBS Superstation (flat) each did a 0.8.

In the key demographics -- 18-49, 18-34 and 25-54 -- ESPN swept the day in October, ranking No. 1 in delivery of those viewers in primetime.

In the news wars in October, all of the 24-hour news networks were down versus a year ago, when ratings soared due to the Washington, D.C., sniper shootings.

But Fox News Channel was down less than the rest. It posted a 1.0 rating in primetime, down 33% from last October’s 1.5. Cable News Network dropped 36% versus last year, to a 0.7 from a 1.1. And MSNBC slid a whopping 40%, to a 0.3 from a 0.5 last October.

For total-day in October among all cable networks, Nick kept its No. 1 roost with a 1.4 rating, and Disney was No. 2 with a 1.2.

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