MNF Propels ESPN in October

Riding the crest of record ratings for its Monday Night Football franchise, ESPN was basic cable’s easy primetime winner during the month of October.

The total sports network -- buoyed by the medium’s best-ever numbers of a 12.8 rating, 16 million viewers and 11.8 million households for its Oct. 23 presentation of the MNF National Football League contest between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys -- averaged a 2.9 cable household rating from Sept. 25-Oct. 29, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks analysis of Nielsen Media Research data

That amounted to a half-point edge over Disney Channel’s 2.4 mark, even with its October average last year.

Elsewhere, there was mostly downward motion among the medium’s top 10 primetime performers.

Third-ranked USA Network was off 5% from a 2.1 last year to a 2.0, while sister services TNT and Cartoon Network placed fourth and fifth, respectively, with a 1.7 (down 11% from a 1.9) and a 1.3 (a 13% decrease to a 1.5).

A trio of networks averaged a 1.2, with TBS off 8% from a 1.3, while both Nick at Nite and Fox News Channel declined 20% from a 1.5 in the corresponding month last year.

Hallmark Channel, ahead 10% from a 1.0, and Lifetime Television, which sustained a 31% hit, rounded out the top 10, each with a 1.1 average.

Gauged among the Madison Avenue-coveted adults 18-49 demo, ESPN also was first for the month with an average of 1.74 million of those watchers in primetime, followed by USA with 1.08 million, according to the Disney ABC Cable analysis. TNT (909,000), TBS (810,000) and FX (724,000) completed the top five.

On a total-day basis, Nickelodeon was in its usual first-place perch among households with a 1.7 average. Disney, ESPN and TNT were tied for second, all with 1.1 marks and all at 0.1 rating points better than NAN, USA and Cartoon.