ESPN wins cable’s young demo crowns

Nov 4, 2002  •  Post A Comment

ESPN ruled cable’s young demo race in October.
The sports network was No. 1 in prime time for the month in both adults 18 to 34 and adults 18 to 49, with MTV second in the adults 18 to 34 demo and USA second in adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research.
ESPN delivered an average of 561,000 18- to 34-year-olds (compared with MTV’s 471,000) and 1.1 million 18- to 49-year-olds (compared with USA’s 936,000) in prime time during the month.
In the prime-time household race, Lifetime Television edged out ESPN by one-tenth of a rating point, 1.8 to 1.7, for a victory.
The four most watched prime-time cable programs in October were ESPN football telecasts. In fact, the only entertainment programs to make the cable top 10 last month were TLC’s “Trading Spaces” (No. 7), TNN’s “Raw” from World Wrestling Entertainment (No. 8) and Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants” (No. 9).
The big upset of the month, however, was in cable news, where, in a head-to-head time-period battle, Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes beat CNN’s Larry King for the first time, 1.65 million viewers to just under 1.58 million. That win for “Hannity & Colmes” came during a month dominated by hard news, from the hunt for the Washington-area sniper to the upcoming elections at home to the prospect of war in Iraq. Hard news is considered CNN’s forte, so that’s one more sign of the momentum that has carried Fox News past CNN in the overall ratings this year.
How the bitter cable news battle for viewers will translate into the battle for advertising dollars still remains to be seen. Fox News Channel is looking to be rewarded for its increased numbers this year, while CNN is making the case that it still deserves those higher costs-per-thousand because its viewers are more upscale.