Weekly Cable Ratings: NBA, NFL Help ESPN Finish October Strong

San Antonio Spurs' French forward-center #01 Victor Wembanyama shoots the ball past Dallas Mavericks' US power forward #03 Grant Williams during the NBA basketball game between the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas on October 25, 2023.
Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama's NBA debut drew nearly 3 million viewers for ESPN. (Image credit: Getty Images)

NBA and NFL coverage helped ESPN finish first in primetime among all cable networks during the final week of October.

The sports network averaged 2.2 million viewers for the week of October 23 to October 29, topping second-place Fox News Channel, which averaged 2 million viewers for the week, according to Nielsen numbers supplied by Fox News. 

ESPN was paced by its October 23 San Francisco 49ers-Minnesota Vikings Monday Night Football game, which drew 7 million viewers, as well as its October 25 NBA season-opening telecast featuring San Antonio Spurs No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama in his first pro game. That contest against the Dallas Mavericks drew nearly 3 million viewers. 

TBS finished third with 1.65 million, followed by MSNBC with 1.2 million and Hallmark Channel with 1 million viewers. Rounding out the top 10 most-watched networks for the week were TNT (973,000 viewers), HGTV (780,000), CNN (762,000), FS1 (665,000), and TLC (611,000).

On a 24-hour basis, Fox News finished first for a fifth straight week with 1.4 million viewers, followed by MSNBC (907,000), ESPN (797,000), CNN (617,000) and Hallmark Channel (551,000), according to 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.