Tune In: Original Cable Programming
No. of subscribers: 92 million
Network topper: George Bodenheimer
Programming topper: John Skipper
Top originals: Winter X Games, Behind the Lines, Pardon the Interruption
Upcoming originals: The Bronx Is Burning (miniseries), Ruffian (telepic)
The skinny: ESPN had a strong year in the Nielsen ratings in 2006, finishing third overall in total viewers among ad-supported cable network in primetime, thanks, in part, to its pickup of “Monday Night Football” from its ABC sibling. The top-15-rated programs for 2006 were all “MNF” contests. ESPN has extensive rights deals with the three major professional sports of football, basketball and baseball, and splits NASCAR races with Fox. It also carries lots of college football and regular-season college basketball. But ESPN still hasn’t come up with a successful scripted series, having failed with “Playmakers,” which ran afoul of the NFL, and “Tilt,” about professional card players, which never found a mass audience. Both lasted only one season.