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TNT, Disney Tops in Basic Cable's 3Q

TNT and Disney Channel conquered the cable Nielsen charts in the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30. TNT claimed the top spot with a 2.1 prime time rating and an average 2.4 million viewers and Disney followed with a 1.9 average rating and 2.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

TNT's ratings were up 17% compared with a year ago, and Disney Channel's, with shows like Lizzie McGuire and That's So Raven, shot up 46%.

With football season under way, ESPN's numbers are climbing. The sports net finished the quarter with a 1.6 average rating and 1.8 million viewers, but its September marks were stunning: 2.4 rating, 2.8 million viewers. Its National Football League coverage draws some of the biggest crowds on cable. Of the quarter's five highest-rated programs, four were NFL games.

Lifetime Television finished the quarter with a 1.8 rating, off 14% from a year ago, and 1.9 million viewers. Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network each recorded a 1.7 rating, which was a 6% slip for Nick and a 6% increase for Cartoon. Nick attracted 1.9 million viewers to Cartoon's 1.8 million.

Among the quarter's biggest gainers were Bravo (up 100% to a 0.6 rating, thanks to Queer Eye for a Straight Guy); TLC (up 22% to a 1.1 rating); and Hallmark Channel (up 40% to a 0.7 rating).