ESPN last week bounced back to take the prime-time ratings race, gutting out a win against TBS and its postseason baseball coverage.
The sports network averaged 3.77 million total viewers during the week ended Oct. 18, while sweeping the core demos. Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, ESPN delivered an average 1.88 million adults 25-54, 1.83 million viewers 18-49 and 827,000 viewers 18-34.
Football secured the victory, as ESPN’s sixth Monday Night Football telecast of the season drew 13.1 million viewers. The Jets-Dolphins battle marked the second-lowest rated MNF telecast of the 2009-10 NFL campaign, topping the Sept. 14 late game, a Chargers-Raiders tilt that drew 11.9 million viewers.
College ball also gave ESPN a lift, as Saturday night’s SEC showdown between No. 2 Alabama and No. 22 South Carolina drew 4.62 million viewers between 7:41 p.m. and 11:08 p.m.
On the heels of setting its all-time weekly ratings record with 5.41 million viewers, TBS cooled down a bit, drawing 2.99 million. The Turner net took second place among the demos, averaging 1.42 million viewers 18-49, 1.38 million adults 25-54 and 690,000 viewers 18-34.
October baseball continued to drive TBS’ ratings run, as Game 1 of the National League Championship Series drew 6.84 million viewers on Oct. 15, an increase of 3 percent versus last season’s ALCS opener (6.69 million).
Also putting up big numbers were Game 4 of the National League Division Series (Rockies-Phillies), which drew 5.2 million viewers Oct. 12, and Game 3 of the Phillies-Dodgers NLCS, an 11-0 rout that drew 5.04 million viewers opposite NBC’s Sunday Night Football. (The Bears-Falcons game registered a 12.0 overnight rating and a 19 share.)
Through 16 postseason contests, TBS’ MLB playoff coverage is averaging 4.92 million viewers, up 7 percent from a year ago.
USA Network held onto third place across the board, drawing 2.87 million viewers, of which 1.24 million were members of the 25-54 demo. USA also served up 1.13 million viewers 18-49 and 501,000 viewers 18-34.
USA’s biggest draw came courtesy of an NCIS rerun, which drew 4.87 million viewers Wednesday night at 8 p.m. The network’s Monday night wrestling showcase, WWE Raw, drew 4.79 million viewers between 9 p.m. and 11:08 p.m.
Fox News remained in fourth place on the week, with an average nightly audience of 2.1 million viewers. Of these, 558,000 were in the 25-54 demo. Closing out the top five was Nick at Nite, which drew 1.75 million viewers in prime.
Last week’s top 10 ad-supported cable nets among the core TV demo were: ESPN, averaging 1.83 million viewers 18-49; TBS (1.42 million); USA (1.13 million); FX (779,000); Syfy (728,000); TNT (664,000); Discovery Channel (628,000); Comedy Central (627,000); A&E (618,000) and VH1 (571,000). In yet another week dominated by professional sports, FX boasted the only pair of scripted dramas to crack the top 20. Sons of Anarchy averaged 2.35 million viewers 18-49 in its Tuesday 10 p.m. time slot, while Nip/Tuck returned to 1.9 million 18-49s.
Non-ad-supported Disney Channel advanced to third place among all basic-cable nets, averaging 2.96 million viewers. The Mouse continued to dominate the youth demos, drawing 1.18 million kids 6-11, 1.51 million viewers 6-14 and 956,000 ‘tweens 9-14.
Disney Channel secured its largest audience of the week on Friday night, as a new episode of The Suite Life on Deck drew 4.66 million viewers at 8:30 p.m. Lead-in The Wizards of Waverly Place scared up 4.56 million viewers and at 9 p.m., Phineas and Ferb averaged 4.45 million viewers.