Football boosts ESPN's ratings


Forget Major League Baseball -- ESPN is on a ratings tear now that pro football
is back in season. The sports network finished the week of Sept. 2 through 9 with a
staggering 3.4 prime time average, according to Nielsen Media Research data
crunched by Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

Leading the charge was a 9.6 rating for a Sept. 8 matchup between the Dallas
Cowboys and Houston Texans and a 9.4 rating for the Sept. 5 National Football League season opener
between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.

The games ranked among the 10-most-watched shows on both broadcast and cable
among adults 18 through 34 and 18 through 49, according to Nielsen
numbers from MTV Networks.

Turner Network Television and Lifetime Television were the closest competitors, turning in 2.2 averages in
prime time. TNT's biggest single rating also came from sports -- the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing's Chevy Monte
Carlo 400 event Sept. 7 recorded a 4.2 rating. Law & Order repeats
also helped out, with five episodes rating between a 2.5 and a 3.0.

Nickelodeon (1.9) and USA Network (1.8) rounded out the top five.

Buoyed by its sleeper redecorating hit. Trading Spaces, The Learning Channel grabbed a
1.3 prime time average. On Sept. 7, two helpings of Trading Spaces
notched 4.0 and 3.2 ratings. Sister network Discovery Channel, which usually scores
better Nielsens, finished with a 1.0 average.