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ESPN Rings In New Year As Most-Watched Basic Network

The season finale of Monday Night Football and a blitz of college football bowl games lifted ESPN to a blowout weekly ratings win heading into the New Year.

With ESPN football telecasts tackling seven of the top 10 most watched shows of the week, the sports network averaged a basic cable network-best 6.3 million viewers for the week of Dec. 28., 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010, nearly doubling the 3.3 million viewers generated by 2009's overall basic cable ratings leader USA Network.
Disney Channel finished third with 2.6 million viewers, followed by TNT (2.3 million) and A&E (1.8 million). Nick-At-Nite (1.6 million); TBS (1.5 million);  ABC Family (1.5 million); FX (1.4 million) and Food Network (1.4 million) rounded out the top 10.
ESPN's final Monday Night Football telecast of the season, a Dec. 28 matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, drew 17.7 million viewers to top all basic cable shows for the week. Overall, ESPN averaged 14.4 million viewers for its MNF telecasts, its highest total since the network acquired the franchise four seasons ago.
Outside of football, only USA's WWE Monday Night Raw wrestling franchise and an episode of Nickelodeon's Spongebob Squarepants broke the top 10 list among all basic cable shows for the week.

Top 10 Most Watched Shows For The Week*

Date                              Show                                                                 Network                    Total Viewers
12/28/09                       MNF: Vikings/Bears                                          ESPN                          17 million
1/2/10                            Alamo Bowl-Mich. St/Texas Tech                   ESPN                           7.8 million
12/31/09                       Chick-fil-A Bowl-Virginia.Tech/Tenn.             ESPN                          7.5 million
1/2/10                            Liberty Bowl-Arkansas-East Carolina          ESPN                           6.4 million
12/29/10                       Champs Sports Bowl-Miami/Wisconsin       ESPN                           6.2 million
12/30/10                        Pacific Life Holiday Bowl-Ariz.-Neb.               ESPN                           6.1 million
1/1/10                             Outback Bowl-Northwestern-Auburn             ESPN                           5.6 million
12/28/09                        WWE Monday Night Raw (10-11:08 p.m.)   USA                             5.6 million
12/28/09                        WWE Monday Night Raw (9-10 p.m.)           USA                              5.3 million
12/31/09                        SpongeBob SquarePants                               Nick                              5.1 million
*- Period from Dec. 28, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010
Source- Disney-ABC Television Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research