Special Vaults Disney To Primetime Ratings Win Over USA

 Disney Channel upset USA Network in the weekly ratings race among basic-cable networks last week

Led by a July 17, 90-minute special combining three of its top teen-targeted comedies - Wizards of Waverly Place, Hannah Montana and Suite Life On Deck - that drew nearly 10 million viewers, Disney averaged 3.3 million viewers to best summer ratings leader USA Network and its 3.1 million viewers for the week of July 13 through July 19, according to an Disney/ABC Television Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research.

TNT pulled up into third place with 2.2 million viewers, while Nick At Nite moved into fourth with 2 million viewers. Fox News (1.95 million); ESPN (1.93 million); TBS (1.5 million); FX (1.3 million); SyFy (1.2 million); and Discovery Channel (1.2 million) rounded out the top 10 most -watched networks for the week.

Nickelodeon continued it basic-cable network dominance on a 24-hour basis, averaging 2.4 million viewers to Disney's 2.1 million viewers. Nick's sister service Nick At Nite (1.7 million) took third place honors, while USA (1.56 million) and TNT (1.2 million) rounded out the top five.

The 9.3 million viewers garnered by Disney's Wizards On Deck With Hannah Montana special was the most-viewed show for the week, as well as the most watched basic cable scripted program for the year. The special also set a 2009 high mark among kids 6-11 (3.8 million) and Tweens 9-14 (3.7 million), according to Nielsen.

ESPN swung for the fences as its July 22 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby connected with 8.2 million viewers to finish second, while USA's spy drama Burn Notice singed the competition to finish third with 6.6 million viewers.

Top 10 Most Watched Shows*

Show                                                          Date       Network          Total Viewers

1. Wizards On Deck w/Hannah              7/17       Disney             9.2 million

2. 2009 Home Run Derby                       7/13       ESPN               8.2 million

3. Burn Notice                                            7/16       USA                  6.6 million

4. The Closer                                             7/13       TNT                  6.5 million

5. Royal Pains                                           7/16        USA                 6.2 million

6. Hannah Montana                                 7/17        Disney             6.08 million

7. Home Run Derby (Pre-show)            7/13       ESPN               6.06 million

8. WWE Raw (10:01-11:08)                     713       USA                  5.5 million

9. Spongebob Squarepants                    7/19      Nickelodeon   5.3 million

10.Spongebob Squarepants                  7/19       Nickelodeon   5.1 million

*For the week of July 13 to July 19

Source: Disney-ABC Television Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research.

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.