In a bit of a surprise, USA Network was the top rated ad-supported cable network for the week ending 19th in viewers, jumping ahead of the previous dominant ESPN for the first time since “Monday Night Football” began airing on the sports entertainment network.
USA averaged a 2.2 household rating (2.02M households) and 2.83M viewers, placing first in viewers but second to ESPN in households (though just barely, more on that below). USA was led by its always reliable “WWE” presentation, a special “Monk” as well as a strong outing from its movie of the week, the premiere of the Will Ferrell led 2003 holiday hit “Elf”.
“WWE” was the networks highest rated program with an average of 4.94M viewers from 9:00 to 11:00 PM on Monday night. The previously mentioned “Monk” special turned in a respectable (but below average when comparing to normal episodes) 3.95M viewers on Friday night.
“Elf” pulled in an impressive 3.93M viewers the following evening.
Among the key demos, USA placed first in all (636,000 A18-34, 1.32M A18-49 and 1.32M A25-54).
ESPN was second for the week with 2.66M viewers and barely edged USA in households with a 2.2 household rating (2.07M households). A difference of just 54,000 households (2.070M to 2.016M).
It was led by its “Monday Night Football” matchup between the Tampa Bay Bucaneers and the Carolina Panthers (7.31M households, 9.58M viewers).
Among the key demos, ESPN placed second in all three (538,000 A18-34, 1.26M A18-49 and 1.30M A25-54).
Coming in third for the week was TNT, earning a 1.5 household rating (1.42M households) and averaging 1.82M viewers in primetime. It had no programs place in the top 40 of cable.
Among the key demos TNT was 9th in A18-34 (301,000), 4th in A18-49 (741,000) and third in A25-54 (814,000).
Following in fourth for the week was the Cartoon Network which averaged a 1.4 household rating (1.25M households) and 1.51M viewers.
Finishing in fifth for the week was TBS which averaged a 1.2 household rating (1.11M households[#7]) and 1.43M viewers.
Among the key demos TBS finished fourth in A18-34 (420,000), third in A18-49 (819,000) and fourth in A25-54 (767,000).
Moving on to non-ad-supported networks brings us to the Disney Channel which, as usual, finished the week in the top spot among that category with an average of 2.34M viewers and a 2.0 household rating (1.80M households). Good enough for a third place finish among the cable universe in both households and viewers.
The most watched program on the network for the week was the the Friday episode of “Hannah Montana” which was watched by 4.08M viewers (2.86M households).