USA proved that luring wrestling rights back from Spike was a smart move. The network ranked second among basic cable networks in October, averaging 2.46 million total viewers in prime time for the month, a 23% jump over last year, according to Nielsen Media Research.
ESPN came in first for the month, averaging 2.87 million total viewers in prime time – up 16% from last year. That was off the strength of Sunday night football, as well as baseball. The top three basic cable programs for the month were all Sunday night football games on the sports network, the highest ranking being Oct. 30’s 8:30 p.m. Bills-Patriots game, which averaged 9/7 million total viewers.
TNT followed USA in the monthly rankings with 2.15 million total viewers in prime time, up 11% from last year, and Lifetime was next, averaging 1.79 million – up 4% from last year.
USA acquired World Wrestling Entertainment’s Raw for around $30 million in May after the program ran for five years on Spike. It premiered the program early in October, when Spike’s deal ended. USA executives had high hopes that the show would catapult the network over other cable entertainment networks to top of the ratings.