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ESPN Takes January Primetime Cable Ratings Crown

ESPN scored cable's first monthly primetime ratings win in January on the strength of its college football playoffs coverage.

The sports network averaged 2.5 million viewers for the period of Dec. 31, 2018 to Jan. 27, 2019 to top all cable networks, according to Nielsen. The network was paced by its Jan. 7 Alabama-Clemson College Football Playoff National Championship telecast, which drew more than 25 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

Fox News finished second with 2.2 million viewers, followed by MSNBC’s 1.9 million viewers, and Hallmark Channel and HGTV’s 1.3 million watchers each, said Nielsen.

CNN (1.2 million viewers), USA Network, History, Investigation Discovery (all tied with 1.1 million) and Discovery Channel, TNT, A&E Network and TLC (all tied with 1.0 million) rounded out the top 10 most watched cable networks in primetime for the month.

Fox News continued to dominate the total day race, notching its 31 consecutive monthly ratings win by avering 1.3 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. MSNBC, ESPN, CNN and Nickelodeon finished among the top five in the category, according to 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.