ESPN Wins Final Summer Weekly Ratings Race

ESPN drove its NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage to the top of last week’s cable primetime ratings charts.

The network’s Aug. 31 coverage of the Sprint Cup Atlanta Race – the first race for driver Tony Stewart since being involved in an Aug. 9  fatal racing accident in New York – helped the network finish first among cable networks in primetime during the week of Aug. 25 to Aug. 21, according to Nielsen. ESPN’s 2.3 million viewers easily topped USA’s 1.8 million watchers and Fox News’ 1.63 million viewers.

FXX’s 12 consecutive days of The Simpsons episodes boosted the network to a fourth place finish for the week, averaging 1.4 million viewers, while Disney Channel finished fifth with 1.58 million viewers.

TNT (1.53 million viewers); History (1.51 million); TBS (1.48 million); HGTV (1.33 million) and Nick At Nite (1.05 million) rounded out the top 10 most watched networks for the week.

Nickelodeon and Disney Channel finished in a virtual tie for the most watched network on a 24-hour basis, averaging 1.2 million viewers. FXX, Adult Swim and Fox News all tied for third with 1 million viewers each.

ESPN was tops among adults 18-49 and 25-54 for the week in primetime, while FXX was the choice among adults 18-34.

Most Watched Shows For The Week of Aug. 25 to Aug. 31

DateProgram NetworkTotal Viewers
8/31                        NASCAR Sprint Cup Race                              ESPN              5.2 million
8/26                        Rizzoli & Isles                                                  TNT                 5.1 million
8/30                        College Football                                               ESPN             4.6 million
8/25                        WWE Monday Night Raw (9 to 10 p.m.)          USA                4.0 million
8/25                        WWE Monday Night Raw (10 to 11:07)           USA                4.0 million
8/25                         Love & Hip Hop Atlanta                                   VH1                3.9 million
8/30                         College Football                                               ESPN             3.9 million
8/25                         WWE Monday Night Raw (8 to 9 p.m.)            USA               3.8 million
8/27                         American Pickers                                             History           3.1 million
8/26                         The O’Reilly Factor                                          Fox News      3.0 million
Source; Nielsen

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.