USA Network barely held on to its weekly ratings crown last week as TNT and ESPN begin to dribble their way to the top with their respective National Basketball Association playoff coverage.
USA averaged 2.9 million viewers during the week of April 19 to April 26, finishing in first place among all basic cable networks, according to a Disney-ABC Television analysis of Nielsen data. USA Bested TNT, which averaged 2.8 million viewers, and ESPN, which pulled in 2.5 million viewers. Both networks last week began coverage of the potentially ratings-rich NBA playoffs, which runs through May.
History, on the strength of its April 25 network record viewership-setting debut of America: The Story Of Us, finished fourth with 2.16 million viewers, slightly ahead of Disney Channel's 2.13 million viewer average.
Nick-At-Nite (2 million viewers); Fox News Network (1.7 million); TBS (1.5 million), Cartoon Network (1.4 million) and A&E (1.3 million) rounded out the top 10.
ESPN's April 22 primetime coverage of the NFL Draft -- the pro football league's annual college player selection event -- was the most watched program for the week, averaging 7.2 million viewers. History programming accounted for half of the top 10-rated shows for the week, led by the April 25 premiere of America: The Story Of Us, which drew 5.6 million viewers, and an April 25 episode of reality series Pawn Stars, which averaged 5.3 million viewers - good for second and third place respectively.
Top 10 Most Watched Shows For The Week*:
DateProgram Network Viewers
4/22 NFL Draft ESPN 7.2 million
4/25 America: The Story Of Us History 5.6 million
4/25 Pawn Stars History 5.3 million
4/22 Spongebob ESPN 4.7 million
4/25 Pawn Stars History 4.5 million
4/24 Spongebob Nickelodeon 4.5 million
4/21 NCIS USA 4.4 million
4/24 Spongebob Nickelodeon 4.3 million
4/21 NCIS USA 4.3 million
4/19 Pawn Stars History 4.2 million
* - Week of April 19 to April 25
Source: Disney-ABC Television Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research