TBS Wins Primetime Race, Despite ESPN's 'MNF' Monster

 ESPN's Oct. 5 Minnesota-Green Bay Monday Night Football telecast may have set an all-time cable viewership ratings record, but it was TBS which hit the biggest ratings home run on cable last week.

Backed by its exclusvie coverage of Major League Baseball's four Division Series, TBS was the most-watched cable network in primetime for the week of Oct. 5 to Oct. 11, according to a Disney-ABC Television Group analysis of Nielsen ratings. TBS' 3.9 household rating average was the best in the network's 33 -year history.

ESPN was second with a 3.0 rating, trailed by USA's 2.2 rating. Disney finished fourth with a 2.1 rating, followed by Fox News (1.7 rating); Nick At Nite (1.3); A&E and Syfy (both tied with a 1.1 rating); and Cartoon Network, TNT, FX and HGTV (all tied with a 1.0 rating.)

TBS also tied with perennial total day ratings leader Nickelodeon for the most-watched network on a 24-hour basis with a 1.5 rating. Disney (1.3) and ESPN, USA and Nick-at-Nite (all tied with a 1.1 rating) rounded out the top five.

Sports and sports entertainment programming dominated the top 10 spots among the most watched shows of the week, led by the record-breaking 21.8 million viewers generated by ESPN's Vikings-Packers contest.

TBS's coverage of baseball's divisional playoff series secured six of the next seven spots, with the three-game Minnesota Twins-New York Yankees series drawing the lion's share of viewers. The Oct. 11 telecast of the Yankees' clinching Game 3 win drew the biggest audience for TBS with 6.7 million viewers.

Most Watched Shows For The Week*

1. Packers/Vikings                           10/5                        ESPN                              21.8 million

2. Yankees-Twins Gm. 3               10/11                     TBS                                    6.7 million

3. Twins-Yankees Gm. 1               10/7                       TBS                                    6.6 million

4. Tigers-Twins                               10/6                       TBS                                     6.5 million

5. Twins-Yankees Gm 2                10/9                       TBS                                     6.4 million

6. SportsCenter                               10/5                       ESPN                                 5.2 million

7. Cardinals-Dodgers Gm. 2        10/8                       TBS                                     5.1 million

8. Red Sox-Angels Gm. 2              10/9                       TBS                                     5.0 million

9. Cardinals-Dodgers Gm. 1        10/7                       TBS                                     4.9 million

10 WWE Raw (10-11 p.m.)           10/5                       USA                                     4.7 million

*Week of Oct. 5 to Oct. 11

Source: Disney-ABC Television Group analysis of Nielsen ratings.

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.