SBJ/January 9 - 15, 2006/Media

ESPN sees overall ratings drop in 2005

ESPN experienced a slight ratings slide for the full-year 2005, marking the first year since 2001 that ratings for the network were down.

On a 24-hour basis, the network averaged a 0.7 rating, down from a 0.8 last year. The household dip was less pronounced, from 673,000 households to 655,000, a slide of only about 3 percent. In prime time, ratings stayed even at 1.6, and households were down just a tad from 1.405 million to 1.395 million, not even a 1 percent dip.

The trend was pretty consistent across all the key demographics on ESPN, as households for both men 18-34 and men 18-49 were slightly off, although the network maintained its No. 1 position within those groups on a 24-hour basis across all of cable.

It was generally a good year for live events on ESPN, with average ratings up 4 percent despite NFL numbers being down slightly. Where the network took a hit was in the news and information category, as “SportsCenter” ratings were down 7 percent (including re-airs) and other news programs were off 5 percent. The brightest spot was the “other programming” category, which includes ESPN Original Entertainment and was up 14 percent.

While ESPN’s streak of year-over-year increases ended, the company touts 2005 as its best ever on a cumulative-viewer basis, when including all of its networks. For ESPN2, the 24-hour and prime-time ratings were flat, but households were up slightly. It averaged a 0.3 for the total day and a 0.6 in prime time, with 236,000 and 504,0000 households, respectively.

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