Two NFL Games Boost ESPN

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With a pair of National Football League games leading the way, ESPN scored a 0.6-point edge over a pair of primetime competitors last week.

The total-sports network averaged a 2.5 household rating Dec. 15-21, boosted by the period’s two-highest rated shows: an 8.7 mark for the Dec. 21 matchup between the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts and a 5.1 for the Dec. 20 contest between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets, the network’s 200th NFL cablecast.

USA Network, driven by the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit franchise, and Nickelodeon were tied for second with a 1.9, ahead of the 1.8 recorded by both TBS Superstation and Turner Network Television. Disney Channel was next with a 1.7.

Rounding out the top 10: Lifetime Television and Fox News Channel, both with a 1.5; Cartoon Network at a 1.4; and a 1.2 for Discovery Channel, bolstered by Dinosaur Planet programming, which nonetheless failed to measure up to the behemoth numbers the network has recorded with prehistoric fare in the past.

ABC Family, lifted by its "25 Days of Christmas" stunt, and The History Channel, each with a 1.1 average, and Hallmark Channel and The Learning Channel, both with a 1.0, finished just off the top-10 pace.

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