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'Jersey Shore' Slides as ESPN Tackles 4.4 Million Viewers With 2011 NFL Preseason Opener

The return of NFL preseason action apparently helped ESPN intercept some of the audience from Snooki and the rest of GTL gang in Italy.

With the first nationally televised NFL exhibition game since the lockout was resolved, ESPN averaged 4.39 million viewers, including a 1.7 rating against persons 18 to 34, for its Aug. 11 coverage of the Seattle-San Diego contest, according to Nielsen data.

The 10 p.m. premiere of the second episode of the fourth campaign of MTV's Jersey Shore pulled in 7.37 million viewers to the guidos' and guidettes' frolicking in Florence, according to Nielsen data. That was down from the 8.8 million who tuned in the fourth-season starter on Aug. 4, which was MTV's third-highest series' telecast ever.

Among MTV's broad 12-to-34 demo, the Aug. 11 telecast averaged a 7.1 rating, versus an 8.2 against that group the prior week.

Fox News Channel's coverage of the Republican debate was Aug. 11's second-most-watched cable show with 5.05 million average viewers in the 9 p.m. hour.