ESPN Sits Atop Cable Ratings Pile With Strong MNF


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ESPN Sits Atop Cable Ratings Pile With Strong MNF
Anthony Crupi
NOVEMBER 13, 2007 -

While the sports world continued its season-long canonization of St. Tom and his New England Patriots, the second-best team in the AFC helped ESPN to yet another ratings win last week, as the Pittsburgh Steelers demolished the Baltimore Ravens in a Monday Night Football grudge match watched by just under 10 million viewers.

According to Nielsen Media Research live-plus-same-day data, the Nov. 5 edition of MNF drew 9.89 million total viewers, while nailing down the key demos: adults 18-49 (5.4 million), adults 25-54 (5.16 million) and adults 18-34 (2.73 million). The audience may have been even larger if Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had been a bit more judicious about his passing game; Big Ben?s five touchdown passes in the first half gave Pittsburgh an insurmountable 35-7 lead, sending all but the true die-hards off to bed for the night.

For the week ended Nov. 11, ESPN averaged 2.96 million total viewers in prime time, while sweeping the top three demos with 1.53 million 18-49s, 1.47 million 25-54s and 828,000 18-34s. The sports net also got a considerable boost in total-day from its Saturday afternoon throwdown between SEC rivals Georgia and Auburn, which also happened to be the day?s only game featuring two top-25 teams. The 10th-ranked Bulldogs blew open a tight contest in the fourth quarter, cruising to a 45-20 victory in front of a national TV audience of 4.4 million fans.

USA Network surged into second place on the week, averaging 2.5 million viewers, while delivering its strongest demo numbers among adults 25-54 (1.22 million). The net averaged 5.2 million viewers on the night of Nov. 5 with its two-hour WWE Raw showcase, which also drummed up a significant crowd of 25-54s (2.48 million) and 18-49s (2.68 million).

Third place went to TBS, which posted its single-largest audience of the week with its Nov. 10 presentation of The Wizard of Oz (4.38 million, good for sixth place overall). The Gold Standard allegory notched 2.09 million adults 18-49 between 8:00 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., while delivering a whisker under 2 million 25-54s.

TBS also got a lot of mileage out of its Family Guy re-runs, twice landing in the top 10 among the 18-34 set, thanks to a Tuesday night doubleheader that averaged 1.34 million members of the demo. All told, the net averaged 2.26 million viewers, while taking second among 18-49s (1.24 million) and 18-34s (699,000).

TNT took fourth in prime with 1.9 million total viewers, securing its best demo number with 25-54s (956,000). Fox News Channel kept its stranglehold on the five spot, averaging 1.51 million viewers.

Non-ad-supported Disney Channel finished second among all basic cable nets, averaging 2.83 million viewers in prime, thanks to its blend of acquired movie titles (The Santa Clause) and its original series lineup (Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zach & Cody, The Wizards of Waverly Place.) On Saturday night, a new episode of Hannah Montana delivered 5.47 million viewers, while Wizards held much of its lead-in with 4.6 million viewers.

The Mouse continued its dominance among its target demos last week, taking first place among kids 6-11 with 1.18 million, while handily winning the ?tweens 9-14 race with 990,000.

As has been the case for the past few weeks, the Viacom nets posted big individual-program ratings with their youth-skewing fare, as Comedy Central?s South Park served up 3.97 million total viewers, 2.78 million 18-49s and 2.11 million 18-34s on Nov. 7. Meanwhile, on VH1, I Love New York 2 scared up 3.5 million viewers on Nov. 5, while averaging 2.09 million 18-49s and 1.58 million 18-34s.

Flagship net MTV also put up big demo numbers last week, as The Hills stirred up 2.47 million adults 18-49 and 2.08 million 18-34s on the 5th, while the unsettling Shot at Love: Tila Tequila lured 1.4 million 18-34s Tuesday night in the 10 p.m.-11 p.m. time slot.

On the scripted side, FX?s Nip/Tuck weathered the move from Miami to L.A., drawing 3.33 million viewers Tuesday night, while finishing in the top 10 among all three demos: 18-49 (2.63 million), 25-54 (1.83 million) and 18-34 (1.7 million).