ESPN Wins Week as MNF Dominates

A week after TBS hit the cover off the ball with its MLB Playoff coverage, ESPN rumbled to another prime-time cable ratings win, beating out all comers among total viewers and the three top TV demos.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, Bristol averaged 4.01 million viewers in prime, of which 1.97 million were adults 25-54, 1.97 million were members of the 18-49 demo and 956,000 were part of the 18-34 set.

As has been the case since the 2010-11 NFL campaign began five weeks ago, ESPN put up the week’s biggest numbers with its Monday Night Football telecast. The New York Jets’ 29-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings averaged 17.3 million total viewers on Oct. 11, making it the year’s second most-watched program on basic cable and securing sixth place on the all-time top 10 list.

The MNF demos continue to be extraordinary. Dubbed The Sterger Bowl by Internet wags––a reference to an ongoing NFL investigation into alleged misdoings by QB Brett Favre during his season as a Jet––the New Meadowlands brawl delivered 9.33 million viewers 18-49 and 9.32 million adults 25-54. Moreover, among the 18-34 crowd, ESPN beat out MTV’s Teen Mom and Jersey Shore by a generous margin, averaging 4.52 million members of the younger demo.

ESPN also drew a crowd with Saturday night’s Ohio State-Wisconsin game, averaging 7.27 million viewers between 7 p.m. and 10:09 p.m. Buckeyes-Badgers scared up 3.25 million adults 25-54 and 3.23 million 18-49s.

Bolstered by its American League Championship Series coverage, TBS took second place last week, averaging 3.25 million viewers in prime, an 8 percent increase from the year-ago period. The Oct. 15 Yankees-Rangers opener drew 8.11 million viewers Friday night, a tally that included 3.79 million 25-54s and 3.52 million 18-49s. Game 2 of the ALCS was a late-afternoon tilt; TBS averaged 5.83 million viewers as the Yanks fell to the Rangers 7-2.

For the first two games of the series, TBS is averaging 6.97 million total viewers, 3.11 million adults 25-54 and 2.85 million viewers 18-49. (While Monday night’s Game 3 doesn’t apply to the week under discussion, that 8-0 Rangers blowout drew 7.35 million total viewers. Through the first three telecasts, TBS is up 30 percent among 18-49s and 40 percent with the 25-54 crowd.)

USA Network remained in third place, averaging 2.69 million viewers. The network took third place among its target demos, delivering 1.1 million 25-54s and 994,000 viewers 18-49 in prime. In the absence of its hit original drama series, the biggest draw for USA last week was again WWE Raw, which averaged 4.29 million viewers Monday night from 9 p.m. to 11:12 p.m.

Fox News Channel once again finished fourth among all ad-supported cable nets, averaging 2.44 million viewers. The news net delivered 587,000 adults 25-54, good for a ninth-place finish on the week. Nick at Nite closed out the top five with an average nightly draw of 1.85 million viewers.

Tops among the advertiser-friendly demo were: ESPN, which averaged 1.83 million viewers 18-49; TBS (1.44 million); USA (994,000); MTV (941,000); History (673,000); A&E (669,000); FX (647,000); Spike TV (613,000); BET (602,000) and TNT (601,000).

Non-ad-supported Disney Channel remained fourth among all basic-cable networks, averaging 2.6 million total viewers in prime. The Mouse continued to dominate the kiddie demos, averaging 1.09 million viewers 6-11, 1.47 million kids 2-11 and 867,000 ‘tweens 9-14.

Disney Channel’s biggest draw last week came courtesy of a new episode of The Wizards of Waverly Place, which cast a spell on 4.33 million viewers Friday night at 8:30 p.m.