No Debate: Debate Propels Fox News


The presidential debate and Bill O’Reilly’s exclusive interview with President Bush drove Fox News Channel to the top of cable’s primetime ratings last week.

Fox News averaged a 2.4 household mark Sept. 27-Oct. 3, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. ESPN was second with a 2.0, while USA Network was third at a 1.8.

Disney Channel and Nick at Nite were tied for fourth with a 1.7 average apiece. Rounding out the top 10: Lifetime Television with a 1.6; Cartoon Network and Turner Network Television, both with a 1.5; and TBS and Spike TV, each with 1.4 marks.

Cable News Network, FX, A&E Network and MTV: Music Television just missed the top 10 for the week, all averaging a 1.0.

Gauged on a total-programming-day basis, Nickelodeon was in its usual first-place perch with a 1.6. Channel-sharing sibling Nick at Nite was second at a 1.4. Both Cartoon and Fox News garnered 1.1 averages, while Lifetime and Disney each finished with a 1.0.

Fox News’ coverage of the presidential debate from 9 p.m.-10:31 p.m. Sept. 30 was the week’s highest-rated show with a 6.9. The news network’s analysis of the debate in the following half-hour was third with a 5.8 mark.

The O’Reilly Factor placed four shows in the top 25, headed by a 3.7 Sept. 27 during which the first of a three-part interview with Bush aired.

ESPN’s coverage of the St. Louis Rams-San Francisco 49ers National Football League game earned a 6.4, second for the week.