News Channels Score Gains in Oct. Primetime TV Contest

The all-news networks tallied up winning performances in October, buoyed by their coverage leading up to last week’s presidential election.

Although football-fueled ESPN was No. 1 for the month in primetime, Fox News Channel was only a hair behind in second place.

Fox News posted a 2.0 household rating, up a sizable 100% from a year ago, just behind ESPN’s 2.1, which was down 13%, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data released last week.

The other 24-hour news channels also did well with their campaign coverage last month. Cable News Network averaged a 0.9 primetime rating in October, a 29% increase; while MSNBC scored a 0.5 rating, a 67% jump from a year ago, according to Nielsen.

As far as the rest of last month’s primetime top 10: Disney Channel was third with 1.9 rating, flat compared to last year, while USA Network, Turner Network Television and Nick at Nite were tied for fourth place with a 1.7 each.

USA was flat, while TNT slipped 6%. Nick at Nite saw a 13% gain, according to Nielsen data provided by Nickelodeon.

Nielsen began breaking out ratings for Nick at Nite — the nighttime adult block that airs shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — from those of kid-targeted Nick only this year.

Lifetime Television and Cartoon Network each tallied a 1.6 primetime rating last month, which was the same as a year ago for the women’s network and marked a 6% decline for the animation service.

TBS Superstation and Spike TV both posted a 1.3 rating. TBS was flat, while Viacom Inc.’s men’s network was up 63%. A&E Network racked up a 1.0 rating, which was a gain of 11%.

Some of the other networks that enjoyed a strong October: Comedy Central, up 33% to a 0.8; and National Geographic Channel and Speed Channel, each up 50% to a 0.3.

In primetime in the 18 to 49 demographic in October, ESPN ranked No. 1 in terms of delivery, with 1.3 million. It was followed by USA, with 921,000; TBS, with 916,000; and TNT, with 883,000.

Among viewers 18-to-34, ESPN delivered 560,000, with TBS — with its new sitcom lineup — placing second with 473,000.

TNT year-to-date ranks as the top network in primetime among adults 18 to 49, adults 25 to 54, persons 2-plus and households. It’s also setting the pace among adults 18 to 49 and 25 to 54 in total day.

Sister service Cartoon posted its highest October kids’ total-day rating and delivery ever among kids 6 to 11, or 435,000, up 16%; kids 2 to 11, or 694,000, up 4%; boys 6 to 11, up 11%; girls 6 to 11, up 30%; and boys 2 to 11, up 10%.

Nick was No. l for total-day ratings in October with a 1.8 household rating, up 13% from a year ago, according to Nielsen.

Its Nick at Nite block notched a 27% increase to finish second, with a 1.4.

Fox News’s coverage of the presidential and vice presidential debates and attendant analysis shows claimed eight of the top 15 shows for the month, headed by the 6.9 household rating registered on Sept. 30 from 9-10:31 p.m.

Disney Channel’s Halloweentown High was the highest-rated movie of the month, scaring up a 4.6 on Oct. 8, while the second-season finale of FX’s plastic surgeon series Nip/Tuck was the top entertainment show with a 4.5 on Oct. 5.