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Saints win makes ESPN victorious too

The NFL showdown between New Orleans and New England on cable outranks all broadcast rivals.

December 09, 2009|By city news service

NFL games on ESPN and NBC were last week's two most-watched prime-time television programs, topped by ESPN's "Monday Night Football," believed to be only the third time a cable program has topped all broadcast competition.

The New Orleans Saints' 38-17 victory over the New England Patriots Nov. 30 averaged 21.4 million viewers, the second-most for any program in cable television history.

The most-watched cable program was ESPN's Oct. 5 "Monday Night Football" game matching Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre for the first time against his former Green Bay Packers teammates, which averaged 21.84 million viewers.

The Aug. 17, 2007 premiere of Disney Channel's made-for-television movie "High School Musical 2" was the most-watched program that week, drawing 17.24 million.

Another cable milestone was recorded last week by USA Network's "Monk," whose series finale Friday night drew 9.44 million viewers, the most for an original drama episode on basic cable.

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" game between the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota was an overwhelming choice as the week's most-watched prime-time program on the broadcast networks, averaging 20.89 million viewers, 6.03 million more than the runner-up, ABC's "Desperate Housewives."

In a week when ABC, CBS and NBC's schedules were scrambled by President Obama's speech on Afghanistan, CBS became the most-watched network for the 10th time in the season's 11 weeks, despite airing reruns of many of its most popular shows.

CBS' highlights included Sunday's finale of the 15th season of "The Amazing Race," which placed ninth for the week with 12.3 million viewers, 17% more than the 10.51 million who watched last year's fall finale.

Without the huge "Dancing With the Stars" audience preceding it, viewership for the second episode of the ABC unscripted series "Find My Family" dropped 46% from its premiere to 6.95 million, third in its Monday 9-10 p.m. slot.

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