ESPN first in total primetime viewers in November

A&E scores its best primetime monthly gains ever

ESPN swept the Nielsen table in November, coming in first in total primetime viewers and in the three key adult demos, propelled by four “Monday Night Football” contests and two college-football games on Thursday.

But champagne corks were popping even louder at A&E, which scored the best primetime monthly gains in its 23-year history, soaring by 44% in total viewers, by 60% in 18-34, by 48% in 18-49 and by 40% in 25-54. A&E’s prime movers for November were original series like “Dog the Bounty Hunter” and nightly reruns of “CSI: Miami.”

Disney Channel finished second in November to ESPN in primetime total viewers, climbing by 19% thanks to its “Hannah Montana” series, the “Cheetah Girls 2” original movie and more reruns of “High School Musical.”

Among the top-10-rated cable networks in total viewers, Hallmark Channel exhibited the second biggest gain to A&E, shooting up by 22% in November, helped by the TV premiere of “March of the Penguins” on Nov. 25, which chalked up 4.54-million viewers, Hallmark’s highest-rated telecast ever.

The only theatrical movie on cable to pull more viewers than “Penguins” in November was TNT’s Nov. 11 run of “Walking Tall,” which reached 4.6 million viewers. USA’s premiere of “Elf” on Nov. 18 also broke out, yielding 3.9 million viewers.