2009 Is Most-Viewed Year for ESPN, ESPN2 & ESPN Networks Combined

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via press release:

2009 Is Most-Viewed Year for ESPN, ESPN2 & ESPN Networks Combined

ESPN Finishes Strong with Most-Viewed Quarter Ever; Strong Growth for ESPN Deportes

219 Million People Watched ESPN Networks in 4th Quarter

Monday Night Football Provides Year’s Biggest 15 Cable Audiences & Biggest Ever

ESPN and ESPN2 each posted their most-viewed year in 2009, as did the combination of ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic and ESPN Deportes), a fitting conclusion to the year which was marked by the company’s 30th anniversary September 7.

ESPN averaged 827,000 homes on a 24-hour basis, up seven percent from 2008, the previous record.  ESPN set a new viewership record in separate 10 months and in all four quarters.  The network finished strong as the fourth quarter registered as its most-viewed quarter in history.  The 24-hour average was 1,051,000 homes, up eight percent from 2008 and breaking the mark set in 2007.  It was also ESPN’s most-viewed year in prime time, an average of 1,723,000 homes, up eight percent from last year and breaking the record set in 2006.  ESPN’s fourth quarter and prime-time ratings were boosted once again by Monday Night Football.  The legendary series, which celebrated its 40th season, enjoyed its highest-rated slate since moving to ESPN in 2006, averaging a 10.4 rating.  It posted cable’s top 15 household audiences of 2009, topped by cable’s biggest audience ever – 15,136,000 homes (based on an ESPN record rating of 15.3) for the October 5 game in which Brett Favre played his long-time team, the Green Bay Packers, for the first time.  Favre’s Minnesota Vikings prevailed 30-23.

ESPN2 averaged 275,000 homes on a total day basis, up two percent from last year and edging out 2007 as the most-viewed year.  The network set a record for viewership in five separate months, with September topping all as the network’s most-watched month ever.  It was also ESPN2’s best year ever in prime time, a record average of 529,000 homes, up seven percent from last year and beating the previous mark of 2007.

The five networks combined to average a record 1,216,000 homes in 2009, an increase of seven percent over last year.  In fourth quarter, those networks plus newly-rated ESPNU averaged a record 1,470,000 homes, up seven percent from 2008.  (Even without the addition of ESPNU, the audience would still have been a record with 1,441,000 homes.)  In the quarter, 219 million people tuned into either ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS or ESPN Deportes, representing 75% of Americans and 90% of U.S. multichannel households.  Adding ESPN on ABC, 249 million people in the U.S. watched ESPN content on television in October – December – 85% of the nation.

ESPN Deportes – which began receiving ratings in May 2008 – was the highest-rated U.S. Spanish-language sports network for 2009, and ranked second among all Spanish-language cable networks.  For the May – December period, the audience was up 88% vs. last year.

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