ESPN wins with pro, college football

Averaged 3.77 million in total viewers; won core demos

ESPN last week bounced back to take the primetime ratings race, gutting out a victory against TBS and its postseason baseball coverage.

ESPN averaged 3.77 million total viewers and swept the core demos during the week ended Oct. 18. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, the sports network delivered an average of 1.88 million adults 25-54, 1.83 million viewers 18-49 and 827,000 viewers 18-34.

ESPN's sixth "Monday Night Football" telecast this season drew 13.1 million viewers. The Jets-Dolphins battle marked the second-lowest rated 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 7:41-11:08 p.m.
On the heels of setting its weekly ratings record with 5.41 million viewers, TBS cooled quite 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.

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% compared with 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 on 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 5 million viewers, up 7% 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 at 8 p.m. The network's Monday night wrestling showcase, "WWE Raw," drew 4.79 million viewers between 9-11:08 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 primetime.

FX boasted the only two scripted dramas to crack the top 20 in adults 18-49. "Sons of Anarchy" averaged 2.35 million viewers in the demo in its Tuesday 10 p.m. time slot, while "Nip/Tuck" returned to 1.9 million.

Non-ad-supported Disney Channel advanced to third place among all basic-cable nets, averaging 2.96 million viewers. The network 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 "Wizards of Waverly Place" scared up 4.56 million viewers, and at 9 p.m., "Phineas and Ferb" averaged 4.45 million viewers.