ESPN Tops Cable Nets for Week


Sports dominated the cable ratings for the week ending Dec. 19, with football and wrestling muscling their way to the top four programming spots in total viewers.

ESPN’s Sunday night Ravens/Colts game Dec. 19 scored 12,084,000 total viewers to lead the way, followed by its Saturday night Panthers/Falcons, which drew 7,584,000, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Spike’s WWE programming on Monday night followed up in the number three and four spots, with the 10 p.m.-11 p.m. hour earning 4,755,000 viewers and the 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. hour nabbing 4,664,000.

ESPN’s Sunday night SportsCenter rounded out the top five spots earning 4,449,000 viewers when it aired at 11:43 p.m., after the Ravens/Colts game Sunday night.

One new entrant to the top ten this week: The Sci Fi Channel, which drew 916,000 total viewers for the conclusion of its two-part original miniseries Legend of the Earthsea on Tuesday from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

It was the top-viewed cable program for the night and eighth-most-viewed cable program for the week. Tuesday’s conclusion to the Lord of the Rings-ish fantasy, about a wizard trying to save the mythical land of Earthsea from an evil tyrant, also took in 14 percent more viewers than Monday’s Part one (3,437,000 total viewers).

ESPN was the top basic cable net in prime time for the week, with an average 2,464,000 viewers in prime. The network was followed up in prime time viewership by USA, which averaged 1,891,000 total viewers in prime.

Lifetime, TNT and Nick at Nite rounded out the top five networks in prime viewers.