The heart of college football bowl season gave ESPN a dominant week in the cable ratings, with game telecasts — including the final “Monday Night Football” of the season at No. 1 — and related programming taking up nearly all the top 25.

ESPN had 21 of the top 25 in both adults 18-49 (including ties) and total viewers. The only outliers were all three hours of “WWE Monday Night Raw” and “WWE Smackdown” in the 18-49 rankings; and “When Calls the Heart,” “Major Crimes” and two hours of “Raw” in viewers.

Note: For the foreseeable future, we’ll be publishing rankings for original shows only. Hence the lack of “Big Bang Theory” and “Family Guy” reruns near the bottom of the adults 18-49 chart.

Top 25 original cable shows (including ties) in adults 18-49 for Dec. 25-31, 2017

Rank Show Net Day Time 18-49 rating
18-49 viewers (000s)*
1 MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL – RAIDERS/EAGLES ESPN Mon. 8:15 PM 3.5 4,442
2 ORANGE BOWL – WISCONSIN/MIAMI ESPN Sat. 8:11 PM 3.1 3,994
3 COTTON BOWL – OHIO ST./USC ESPN Fri. 8:39 PM 2.6 3,315
4 FIESTA BOWL – WASHINGTON/PENN ST. ESPN Sat. 4:11 PM 2.5 3,200
COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUDIO ESPN Sat. 8:00 PM 2.5 3,187
6 COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUDIO ESPN Sat. 7:42 PM 2.3 2,970
7 COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUDIO ESPN Sat. 11:38 PM 2.0 2,496
8 COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUDIO ESPN Sat. 4:01 PM 1.5 1,933
9 NBA BASKETBALL – SIXERS/KNICKS ESPN Mon. 12:00 PM 1.2 1,574
COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUDIO ESPN Sat. 3:50 PM 1.2 1,536
MUSIC CITY BOWL – KENTUCKY/NORTHWESTERN ESPN Fri. 5:14 PM 1.2 1,523
ALAMO BOWL – STANFORD/TCU ESPN Thurs. 9:00 PM 1.2 1,498
SPORTSCENTER ESPN Mon. 11:50 PM 1.2 1,498
14 TAXSLAYER BOWL – LOUISVILLE/MISSISSIPPI ST. ESPN Sat. 12:00 PM 1.1 1,421
15 CAMPING WORLD BOWL – VA. TECH/OKLAHOMA ST. ESPN Thurs. 5:15 PM 1.0 1,331
MONDAY NIGHT COUNTDOWN ESPN Mon. 7:30 PM 1.0 1,254
PINSTRIPE BOWL – IOWA/BOSTON COLLEGE ESPN Weds. 5:15 PM 1.0 1,229
SPORTSCENTER ESPN Sat. 11:48 PM 1.0 1,216
19 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 8:00 PM 0.9 1,190
TEXAS BOWL – TEXAS/MISSOURI ESPN Weds. 9:00 PM 0.9 1,178
COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCOREBOARD ESPN Weds. 8:31 PM 0.9 1,114
22 WWE SMACKDOWN USA Tues. 8:00 PM 0.8 1,050
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 9:00 PM 0.8 1,011
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 10:00 PM 0.8 1,011
CACTUS BOWL – KANSAS ST./UCLA ESPN Tues. 9:00 PM 0.8 998
SPORTSCENTER ESPN Fri. 12:28 AM 0.8 960

*Adults 18-49 viewer figures are approximate.

Top 25 original cable shows in viewers for Dec. 25-31, 2017

Rank Show Net Day Time
Viewers (000s)
1 MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL – RAIDERS/EAGLES ESPN Mon. 8:15 PM 11,735
2 ORANGE BOWL – WISCONSIN/MIAMI ESPN Sat. 8:11 PM 11,727
3 FIESTA BOWL – WASHINGTON/PENN ST. ESPN Sat. 4:11 PM 10,167
4 COTTON BOWL – OHIO ST./USC ESPN Fri. 8:39 PM 9,468
5 COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUDIO ESPN Sat. 8:00 PM 9,463
6 COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUDIO ESPN Sat. 7:42 PM 8,600
7 COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUDIO ESPN Sat. 4:01 PM 6,409
8 COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUDIO ESPN Sat. 11:38 PM 6,313
9 COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUDIO ESPN Sat. 3:50 PM 4,895
10 MUSIC CITY BOWL – KENTUCKY/NORTHWESTERN ESPN Fri. 5:14 PM 4,601
11 TAXSLAYER BOWL – LOUISVILLE/MISSISSIPPI ST. ESPN Sat. 12:00 PM 4,424
12 ALAMO BOWL – STANFORD/TCU ESPN Thurs. 9:00 PM 4,332
13 CAMPING WORLD BOWL – VA. TECH/OKLAHOMA ST. ESPN Thurs. 5:15 PM 4,321
14 PINSTRIPE BOWL – IOWA/BOSTON COLLEGE ESPN Weds. 5:15 PM 3,978
15 WHEN CALLS THE HEART HALL Mon. 8:00 PM 3,605
16 MONDAY NIGHT COUNTDOWN ESPN Mon. 7:30 PM 3,485
17 NBA BASKETBALL – SIXERS/KNICKS ESPN Mon. 12:00 PM 3,427
18 TEXAS BOWL – TEXAS/MISSOURI ESPN Weds. 9:00 PM 3,425
19 SPORTSCENTER ESPN Mon. 11:50 PM 3,324
20 CACTUS BOWL – KANSAS ST./UCLA ESPN Tues. 9:00 PM 3,261
21 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCOREBOARD ESPN Weds. 8:31 PM 3,094
22 BELK BOWL – WAKE FOREST/TEXAS A&M ESPN Fri. 1:00 PM 2,957
23 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 8:00 PM 2,948
24 MAJOR CRIMES TNT Tues. 9:00 PM 2,742
25 WWE SMACKDOWN USA Tues. 8:00 PM 2,656

All ratings are live + same-day. Source: The Nielsen Company.

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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