Skip to main content

ESPN Starts Off New Year as Weekly Ratings Champion

ESPN kicked off 2017 as it ended 2016 – in first place among the most watched cable networks on a weekly basis.

ESPN averaged 3.2 million viewers in primetime during the week of Jan. 2 to Jan. 8 to top all cable networks, according to Nielsen. Fox News finished second with 2.4 million viewers, followed by HGTV with 1.7 million viewers. TBS, Discovery Channel and USA all tied for fourth with 1.5 million watchers.

History (1.2 million viewers), Investigation Discovery and Disney Channel (tied with 1.1 million), and Food Network, MSNBC and TNT (tied with 1.0 million) rounded out the top 10 most watched networks for the week.

Fox News garnered the most viewers on average on a 24-hour basis for the week, besting in order ESPN, Nickelodeon, HGTV and Disney Channel.

ESPN was easily the top choice among viewers 18-49 for the week over TBS, USA Network and Discovery, according to Nielsen.

Most Watched Cable Shows For The Week of Jan. 2 to Jan. 8

Date    Show                                                   Network                                 Total Viewers

1/2     Rose Bowl (USC/Penn St.)               ESPN                                       15.7 million

1/2     College Football Studio Show           ESPN                                       9.5 million

1/2     Sugar Bowl (Auburn/Okl)               ESPN                                       9.5 million

1/7     NFL Wild Card (Oak/Hou)               ESPN                                       6.3 million

1/2     College Football Studio Show           ESPN                                       6.1 million

1/2     Cotton Bowl (W. Mich/Wis)             ESPN                                       5.4 million

1/2     Sugar Bowl Post Show                      ESPN                                       5.2 million

1/4     The O’Reilly Factor                            Fox  News                               3.9 million

1/3     The O’Reilly Factor                            Fox News                                3.9 million

1/5     The O’Reilly Factor                            Fox News                                3.8 million

Source: Nielsen

R. Thomas Umstead
R. Thomas Umstead

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.