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ESPN Nips USA In Weekly Primetime Race

ESPN edged USA Network for the top spot last week in basic cable’s primetime ratings race.

The sports service, rode the strength of Monday Night Football action, to top the “characters network” with a 2.1 household average and 2.76 million viewers from Nov. 17-23, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. That was 0.1 point ahead of USA, which counted some 2.68 million watchers on average.

Disney Channel (2.32 million) and Fox News Channel (2.17 million) were next, both with 1.8 averages. TNT was fifth with a 1.5 and 1.92 million watchers.

Hallmark Channel, boosted by the 3.51 million viewers for its Nov. 22 Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving telefilm, the first of six original movies this holiday season, was sixth with a 1.4. 

That put the family-friendly in front of a trio of networks with a 1.3 mark: TBS, ABC Family and Nick at Nite.

FX and Cartoon Network completed the top 10, each with a 1.1 average.

Finishing just out of the money: History, Comedy Central, A&E, Lifetime, Sci Fi and CNN, all at a 1.0. With the glow of the election cycle behind it, MSNBC also slipped to a 0.8 for the week.

ESPN’s MNF presentation of Cleveland Browns’ 29-27 win over the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 17 was the week’s top performer with just under 11.6 million viewers. Installments of Disney Channel original series Wizards of Waverly Place and Hanna Montana on Nov. 23 were second and third with 4.65 million and 4.64 million watchers, respectively.