TNT was the most-viewed cable network during the third quarter (June 27-Sept. 25), averaging 2.7 million total viewers in prime. That’s up 13% over last year, according to Nielsen Media Research. Fox News followed with 2.3 million (up 29% over last year) and USA took third with 2.13 million (down 9% from last year).
It was ESPN, however, who earned the three most-viewed programs of the quarter with three consecutive Sunday nights of football in September. The network's Sept. 11 Colts-Ravens game earned 11.25 million total viewers, the Sept. 18 Chiefs-Raiders game earned 10.34 million and the Sept. 25 Giants-Chargers game earned 9.75 million. The network averaged 1.68 million total viewers in prime third quarter – down 10% from last year.
The biggest ratings spikes of the quarter were seen by: Headline News – up 108% over last year to 471,000 total viewers in prime; Biography Channel – up 89% to 87,000 total viewers in prime; National Geographic – up 66% to 296,000 total viewers in prime; and The N – up 50% to 171,000 total viewers in prime.
The biggest dips were seen by: Bravo – down 15% from last year to 436,000 total viewers in prime; The Weather Channel – down 12% to 513,000 viewers in prime; Court TV – down 12% to 822,000 total viewers in prime and Cartoon Network – down 12% to 1.54 million total viewers in prime.