Cable TV Ratings: ESPN Outduels Fox News

Fox News Channel got a ratings boost from two major election season debates, but the cable network couldn’t compete with ESPN’s roster of playoff baseball and NFL action. In fact, FNC slipped from the top of the cable ratings to third for the week ending Sunday, Oct. 10.
ESPN averaged 4.03 million viewers per night for the week, beating the strong 3.01 million viewers who watched the Disney Channel. Fox News was close behind with 2.95 million viewers per night, with Lifetime’s 2.13 million and the 2.03 million for TNT close behind.

The week’s most watched cable program was the Sunday night gridiron battle between the Ravens and the Redskins, which tackled 8.43 million viewers. Two games of ESPN’s coverage of the American League divisional series between the Yankees and Twins were No. 4 with 6.81 million and No. 10 with 5.06 million. A game between the Red Sox and Angels was No. 13 with 4.14 million.

Tuesday (Oct. 5) night’s debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John Edwards brought 7.82 million viewers to FNC, the week’s second most watched program and more than the 7.09 million who made Friday’s presidential debate the week’s No. 3 basic cable offering. Analysis after the Friday debate was No. 5 with 6.69 million viewers, compared to the 5.62 million who tuned in following the vice presidential tilt, enough for No. 7. The pre-debate coverage on Tuesday was No. 11 with 4.72 million viewers.

The Disney Channel’s strong week was paced by the original “Halloweentown High,” which scared up 6.14 million viewers in its first airing, making it No. 6 for the week. A second airing was No. 9 with 5.16 million.

The only other network with multiple shows in the Top 15 was Nickelodeon, which had episode of “Fairly Odd Parents” at No. 14 with 3.98 million viewers and No. 15 with 3.86 million.

The season finale of “Nip/Tuck,” featuring twists, turns, Joan Rivers and Alec Baldwin drew record ratings for the show, doctoring 5.22 million viewers, while the Lifetime movie “Plain Truth” was No. 12 with 4.68 million.

On the premium cable side, HBO filled the charts, led by a screening of the movie “Bad Boys II,” which blew up an audience of 2.34 million. The Trinidad-Mayorga boxing match was second with 2.02 million, as a new episode of “The Wire” pulled in only 1.45 million in third, just better than a screening of “American Wedding” with 1.27 million viewers. A new “Family Bonds” was fifth with 1.22 million.

Credit: Zap2It