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TBS, Fox Sports 1 top basic-cable prime-time standings with MLB coverage

Football may be America's national sporting pastime, but interest in Major League Baseball’s postseason elevated its rights-holders to the top of the cable ratings during the week ended Oct. 15.

TBS (US) and FOX Sports 1 (US), which this year hold the playoff rights to the National League and American League, respectively, ranked first and second in prime time averaging 3.32 million viewers and 2.92 million from Oct. 9 through Oct. 15, according to a Walt Disney Co. analysis of Nielsen Holdings data. Postseason baseball coverage accounted for seven of the period’s top 10 shows.

Televising the most-watched program with "Monday Night Football" and the ninth- and 10th-ranked entries with college football action, ESPN (US) showed in third for the week with 2.72 million watchers.

News proponents were next: FOX News Channel (US) finished fourth with 2.17 million watchers on average, while MSNBC (US) was fifth, counting 1.57 million viewers.

Four other cable networks — USA (US) (1.32 million), HGTV (US) (1.18 million), Discovery Channel (US) (1.04) and History (US) (1.00) — averaged 1 million or more watchers last week.

Hallmark Channel (US) completed the top 10, averaging 956,000 watchers, as the family-friendly service presented basic-cable’s most-watched entertainment show for the third week in a row with its fall-themed original movie package. The Oct. 14 premiere of "Love Struck Cafe" pulled in 2.59 million viewers.

Sports also played big with one of the demos favored by the advertising community. Here, TBS averaged 1.25 million adults 18 to 49 viewers in prime time. ESPN placed second with 1.19 million demo watchers, while FS1 was third with 1.03 million. USA ranked fourth with 537,000, ahead of 450,000 for Adult Swim. FX Network (US) and Freeform (US) finished sixth and seventh in the demo with 414,000 and 364,000 of those viewers, respectively.

Gauged on a total-programming basis, FOX News won the week with 1.43 million viewers. TBS was second with 1.11 million, ESPN third with 1.06 million, kids' leader Nickelodeon fourth with 1.01 million and MSNBC fifth with 893,000. Adult Swim followed with 776,000, ahead of seventh-place Disney Channel (US)'s 720,000.

Tackling 503,000 adults 18 to 49, ESPN sat atop that total-programming day measure, nipping Adult Swim, which averaged 499,000 of those viewers. TBS showed in third, counting 448,000 in the demo, while channel-sharers Nick at Nite (302,000) and Nick (299,000) rounded out the top 5.

The Oct. 9 "Monday Night Football" telecast of Minnesota-Chicago was basic-cable's most-watched show, with 10.4 million viewers on a live+ same-day basis. ESPN also notched the week’s ninth- and 10th-ranked programs with collegiate pigskin coverage Oct. 14: Alabama’s dismantling of Arkansas was witnessed by 3.87 million watchers, with Oklahoma-Texas Tech scoring with 3.62 million.

TBS tallied four of the week's top eight telecasts, including a pair apiece from the National League Division and Championship Series. The National League Division Series' fifth contest between the Chicago Cubs and Washington pulling in 7.04 million watchers Oct. 12 was third.

In a rematch of last year’s National League Championship Series, the second game of this year's confrontation between Chicago and the Los Angeles Dodgers garnered 6.76 million watchers Oct. 15 to finish fourth for the week, while the opener the night before was fifth with 6.33 million viewers.

FS1 connected with three of the week's top seven shows — the 7.27 million viewers Oct. 11 for the New York Yankees' win over Cleveland in the decisive fifth game of the American League Division Series was second. Friday, Oct. 13, wasn't unlucky for the network, which delivered 6.16 million watchers for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between The Bronx Bombers and Houston, making it sixth, while the fourth New York-Cleveland American League Division Series match was seventh, averaging 4.51 million watchers Oct. 9.