ESPN Draws 17.5 Mil. for Bears, Packers Bruiser

ESPN cruised to another ratings win last week, as a Monday Night Football showdown between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears set a high-water mark for 2010.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, the Bears’ 20-17 victory over their NFC North rivals served up 17.5 million total viewers on Sept. 27, making it the year’s most-watched program on basic cable and securing fifth place on the all-time top 10 list.

As one may well imagine, the MNF demos were extraordinary. The Packers-Bears contest delivered 9.61 million adults 25-54 and 9.43 million viewers 18-49; moreover, among the 18-34 crowd, ESPN beat out MTV’s Jersey Shore juggernaut by 1.24 million viewers, averaging 4.72 million members of the demo.

ESPN also whipped up some significant numbers with its post-MNF installment of SportsCenter (4.41 million total viewers), Sunday afternoon Nascar Sprint Cup coverage (3.74 million) and Thursday night’s Texas A&M-Oklahoma State telecast (3.66 million). On the week, Bristol averaged 3.61 million viewers in prime, of which roughly half (1.85 million) were adults 25-54 and viewers 18-49 (1.81 million). ESPN also won the week among the younger set, drawing 903,000 viewers 18-34.

Bolstered by WWE Raw and its NCIS repeats, USA Network held onto second place last week, averaging 2.52 million viewers in prime, of which 1.03 million were in the adults 25-54 demo and 928,000 part of the 18-49 set. The Monday night wrestling showcase scared up 3.8 million viewers on Sept. 27, a collective that included 1.8 million viewers 18-49.

Non-ad-supported Disney Channel trailed USA by a mere 3,000 viewers during the week ended Oct. 3, as the Mouse’s weekend lineup caught fire. On Friday night at 8 p.m., a one-hour special edition of The Wizards of Waverly Place drew 4.87 million viewers, leading into a fresh installment of Phineas and Ferb. The latter program retained 89 percent of the Waverly Place-setter, averaging 4.35 million viewers.

Fox News Channel took fourth place on the week, averaging 1.98 million viewers in prime, of which 452,000 were members of the core news demo (adults 25-54). Rounding out the week’s top five was Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, which drew 1.56 million viewers.

The top 10 outlets serving the primary TV demo last week were: ESPN, which averaged 1.81 million viewers 18-49; USA (928,000); TBS (860,000); MTV (841,000); History (693,000); FX (635,000); TNT (612,000);  A&E (591,000); Comedy Central (554,000) and TLC (533,000).

As season two of Jersey Shore comes to a graceless, smoked salmon-hued close, MTV boasted three of the week’s most-watched programs. The long-overdue departure of Angelina Trash Bags drew 6.72 million viewers Thursday night at 10 p.m.; immediately thereafter, a post-show analysis retained 70 percent of its lead-in (4.68 million). MTV also put up solid numbers with Teen Mom, drawing 3.96 million viewers Tuesday night at 10 p.m.