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Weekly Cable Ratings: ESPN Charges Past Fox News to Top Primetime Chart

Jamaal Williams #30 of the Detroit Lions is tackled by Krys Barnes #51 of the Green Bay Packers during the second half at Lambeau Field on Sept. 20, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
ESPN's Detroit Lions-Green Bay Packers 'Monday Night Football' telecast drew more than 13 million viewers (Image credit: Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

ESPN dethroned Fox News Channel at the top of last week’s primetime ratings chart, but the news network continued its domination on a 24-hour basis, according to Nielsen.

ESPN averaged 2.7 million viewers during the week of Sept. 20-26 to lead all cable networks and end Fox News’s hold on the top spot at 11 weeks, reported Nielsen. ESPN was led by its Sept. 20 Green Bay Packers-Detroit Lions Monday Night Football telecast, which drew more than 13 million viewers. 

Fox News finished second with 2.4 million viewers, followed by MSNBC with 1.3 million viewers. NFL Network moved into fourth place with 1.1 million viewers, followed by HGTV’s 957,000 watchers. TLC (847,000 viewers), Discovery Channel (789,000), CNN (776,000), Hallmark Channel (775,000) and INSP (729,000) rounded out the top 10 most-watched cable networks in primetime.

Fox News rolled over the competition on the total-day charts, averaging 1.4 million viewers to finish first for the 31st consecutive week. ESPN (839,000 viewers), MSNBC (731,000), HGTV (581,000) and CNN (549,000) followed behind Fox News, said Nielsen. 

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.