USC-Ohio State Lift ESPN to Prime Win

ESPN’s coverage of Saturday night’s USC-Ohio State battle delivered 10.6 million viewers, leading the way for the network’s second straight weekly prime time ratings sweep.

True freshman QB Matt Barkley spearheaded an 86-yard comeback drive, leading the No. 3 ranked Trojans to an 18-15 victory over seventh-ranked Ohio State, in a contest that was seen by 5.35 million adults 25-54 and 5.28 million viewers 18-49, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data.

The inter-conference showdown now stands as the most-watched college football game in ESPN history.

ESPN drew another crowd on Labor Day, as 8.41 million viewers tuned in for Miami’s 38-34 win over Florida State. The ACC fracas drew 4.13 million viewers 18-49 and 4.11 million adults 25-54.

For the week ended Sept. 13, ESPN served up an average nightly audience of 3.9 million viewers, of which 1.89 million were members of the 25-54 demo. Bristol also breezed to a win among viewers 18-49, averaging 1.87 million on the week, and viewers 18-34 (905,000).

With fresh episodes of Monk and Psyche on the schedule, USA Network retained the second spot in prime time, averaging 3.28 million viewers, while nailing down 1.45 million adults 25-54 and 1.25 million viewers 18-49.

Monk scared up 4.82 million viewers in its Friday 9 p.m. slot, while lead-out Psych retained 83 percent of that audience, averaging 4.03 million viewers. USA’s biggest delivery on the week came courtesy of Monday night’s WWE Raw, which averaged 5.48 million viewers between 9 p.m. and 11:14 p.m.

Fox News Channel held on to its No. 3 ranking, delivering 2.62 million viewers, while moving up to the top 10 among the core news demo with an average nightly delivery of 713,000 adults 25-54.

TNT took fourth on the week (2.08 million viewers), while ESPN2 closed out the top five with an average draw of 1.95 million viewers.

Among the advertiser demo, MTV’s Video Music Awards won the week, scaring up 6.1 million adults 18-49 Sunday night between 9 p.m. and 11:31 p.m. All told, some 8.97 million viewers tuned in for the VMAs, an increase of 6 percent versus last year’s show.

The VMAs also drew 5.9 million members of MTV’s target 12-34 demo.

Last week’s top 10 ad-supported cable nets among the core TV demo were: ESPN, averaging 1.87 million viewers 18-49; USA (1.25 million); MTV (1.09 million); TBS (987,000); TNT (947,000); FX (898,000); ESPN2 (739,000); A&E (738,000); History (716,000); and Discovery Channel (604,000).