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ESPN Tackles Weekly Cable Ratings Crown

Bolstered by the launch of the college and pro football season, ESPN topped all basic cable networks in last week’s primetime ratings race.

ESPN averaged 3.7 million viewers during the week of Sept. 7 to Sept. 13 to break Fox News’ five week run atop the primetime cable ratings charts, according to Nielsen. Fox News finished second with 1.7 million viewers.

USA and Disney finished tied for third with 1.5 million viewers, while HGTV held the fifth place spot with 1.4 million viewers. HGTV (1.3 million viewers), History (1.3 million), TBS (1.2 million), Lifetime (1.1 million) and FX (1.1 million) rounded out the top 10 most watched networks for the week.

ESPN also topped the charts on a total day basis, and among the advertiser-coveted adult 18-49 year old demo, according to Nielsen.

ESPN’s college football and U.S. Open tennis tournament coverage represented half of the top 10 most watched shows during the week, Nielsen reported.

Most Watched Cable TV Shows During the Week of Sept. 7 to Sept. 13

DateShowNetworkTotal Viewers

9/7         College Football-Ohio State-Virginia Tech             ESPN                                     10.5 million

9/13       Fear The Walking Dead                                              AMC                                         7.1 million

9/12       College Football-Oklahoma-Tennessee                 ESPN                                      4.1 million

9/7         WWE Monday Night Raw (8-9 p.m.)                           USA                                        3.5 million

9/7         WWE Monday Night Raw (9-10p.m.)                          USA                                       3.5 million

9/8         U.S. Open Tennis Tournament                                    ESPN                                    3.3 million

9/8         The Have and The Have Nots                                      OWN                                     3.2 million

9/13       U.S. Open Men’s Finals                                                ESPN                                    3.1 million

9/12       College Football – LSU/Miss. State                            ESPN                                    3.1 million

9/9         The O’Reilly Factor                                                          Fox News                            3.0 million

Source: Nielsen

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.