Things were tight in primetime during October as TBS and ESPN tied for the ratings top spot, narrowly edging Disney Channel.
Executives at the “very funny” network had to be smiling as TBS, behind the strength of the rookie season of its exclusive coverage of Major League Baseball’s four Division series, averaged a 2.4 household rating from Oct. 1-28, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks analysis of Nielsen Media Research data, double its 1.2 household average from October 2006. TBS might have won the month save for three of the four Division series resulting in sweeps, as was the case with the disappointing ratings delivered by the National League Championship Series that followed.
ESPN, meanwhile, was down 17% this October from a 2.9 average the prior year. The total sports network’s Monday Night Football franchise, despite producing the top three and four of the top five most-viewed cablecasts of the month, is suffering through a sophomore slump with MNF when measured against its rookie season a year ago.
Disney Channel, benefiting from telefilm Twitches, Too, new series Wizards of Waverly Place and installments of tween cynosure Hannah Montana, was third with a 2.3. That average, though, was off 4% from its 2.4 mark in October 2006.
USA Network, pushed by its WWE Monday Night Raw franchise, and original installments from NBC transplant, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, ranked fourth, gaining 5% to a 2.1 from a 2.0.
TNT, down 18% to a 1.4 from a 1.7, was fifth, ahead of sixth-place Fox News Channel, even at 1.2 for the month.
Next, there was a four-way logjam at a 1.1 primetime household average among Lifetime Television and Hallmark Channel (both even); Nick at Nite (down 8% from a 1.2); and Cartoon Network (off 15% from a 1.3).
Finishing just out of the top 10 was Court TV. The Turner-owned service, which will begin its rebranding campaign Nov. 1 as a prelude to official conversion to TruTV with the new year, scored a 25% climb to a 1.0 from a 0.8 a year ago
The next group featuring six networks knotted with a 0.9 mark: MTV and The History Channel (both up 13% from a 0.8); HGTV (flat); and A&E Network, Spike TV and Sci Fi (all off 10% from a 1.0).