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Disney Beats ESPN to Lead Cable Ratings



Anthony Crupi

OCTOBER 24, 2006 -

Disney Channel pulled a seasonal coup last week, unseating sibling ESPN as basic cable’s most-watched network in prime time.

The non-ad-supported Disney averaged 3.5 million total viewers and a 2.8 household rating in prime time, according to Nielsen Media Research data for the week ending Oct. 22. Disney boasted six of the week’s top 10 programs, including three showings of Return to Halloweentown, the latest installment of its Halloweentown movie franchise. The Friday night premiere of Return drew the cable universe’s second-largest audience, with 7.53 million total viewers tuning in between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Return also beat out ABC, Fox and the CW in its Friday night time slot and handily won the night among all cable nets.

ESPN was easily the No. 1 rated ad-supported cable net last week, averaging 3.01 million total viewers and a 2.5 household rating in prime, thanks to another stellar performance by Monday Night Football. The showdown between the Super Bowl favorites the Chicago Bears and Matt Leinart’s Arizona Cardinals delivered 14.23 million total viewers and took all of the top demos, including adults 18-49 (7.35 million), adults 25-54 (7.61 million) and adults 18-34 (3.38 million).

Second place on the week went to USA Network, which drew an average audience of 2.18 million viewers and a 1.8 household rating in prime on the strength of its Monday night WWE juggernaut, which delivered an average 1.28 million viewers in its 9 p.m.-11p.m. time slot. USA trailed behind only ESPN in the core adult demos, averaging 1.03 million adults 18-49, 966,000 25-54s and 525,000 18-34s.

TNT took third among all ad-supported cable nets with 1.8 million total viewers and a 1.6 HH rating, while Nick-at-Nite came in fourth (1.43 million/1.3 HH), edging out Cartoon Net (1.4 million/1.3 HH).

The week’s highest-rated non-sports program was the season finale of Project Runway, which shattered Bravo’s previous all-time ratings record Wednesday night by luring 5.36 million total viewers and 3.44 million adults 18-49. Nip/Tuck was also a big winner for FX, winning over the fifth-largest audience on ad-supported cable with 3.98 million total viewers and 2.91million adults 18-49.


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