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'Closer' Drives TNT's Super Sunday

It may be hard to believe, but not every TV was tuned to CBS's Super Bowl coverage.

Turner Network Television, on the strength of its The Closer marathon, was the highest-rated cable network during the Indianapolis Colts' 29-17 win over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4.

Granted, TNT and series star Kyra Sedgwick didn't come close to Peyton Manning: the drama network averaged 2.2 million viewers during the 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. time period, versus the 93.2 million who watched the National Football League's championship game or the always-hyped Super Bowl commercials.

The game ranks as the third most-watched television event ever, trailing only the 106 million viewers for the 1983 finale of CBS's M.A.S.H. series and the 94.1 million who saw the 1996 Dallas Cowboys-Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl XXX contest on NBC.

The Closer marathon, which ran from 11 a.m. to midnight, placed four of cable's top 10 highest rated shows during the aforementioned period, including a marathon-best 1.6 household rating during the 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. hour, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

Disney Channel was second during the night with a 1.4 household rating and had the cable's best two performing shows against the game, a repeat telecast of the animated film Monsters Inc. and an episode of its original series, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, which drew ratings of 1.8 and 1.6 respectively.

Not to be overlooked: a five-minute preview of Disney's upcoming Cinderella III home video release from 7:55 to 8 p.m. scored a 1.5 rating.

Obsessive/compulsive detective Adrian Monk didn't throw any touchdown passes but a repeat episode of Tony Shaloub's quirky Monk helped USA Network finish third for the night with a 1.3 rating.

Britney Spears' kid sister Jaime Lynn drew an average of 1.9 million viewers to two episodes of her Nickelodeon original skein Zoey 101 to help the network finish tied for fourth with Cartoon Network with a 1.4 rating.

Lifetime (0.9 rating), A&E, FX and Spike (all tied with a 0.7 rating) and ABC Family (0.6 rating) rounded out basic cable's top 10 on the night of the big game.

On another Super Bowl note: Animal Planet's three-hour pregame special Puppy Bowl III generated a 0.7 household rating, a 17% increase compared to last year's version and a 40% increase from its debut in 2005, according to network officials.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.