NEW YORK (AP) — The Hallmark Channel may have aired a movie titled "I'm Not Ready for Christmas" last week, but its viewers clearly are.
The holiday season can't come early enough at Hallmark, where it officially began on Oct. 31. The family-friendly network devotes the final two months of the year to holiday programming, and its eager viewers made it the third most-watched cable network last week behind ESPN and Fox News Channel.
Prime-time viewership at Hallmark for the first two weeks of its holiday focus is up 89 percent over the network's average during October, the Nielsen company said.
"I'm Not Ready for Christmas" had 3.6 million viewers for its premiere on Saturday, while Sunday's original movie, "Christmas Inc.," had 2.5 million, Nielsen said.
The network plans original movies for every evening of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Candace Cameron Bure, whose "Under Wraps" was the most-watched cable movie last year, is returning with the new film, "A Christmas Detour." The holiday movies are capped with "A Christmas Melody," a new movie starring Mariah Carey, on Dec. 19.
As anticipated, the second Democratic presidential debate had the smallest audience of any presidential contest so far this year. It was seen by 8.55 million people on CBS last Saturday night, Nielsen said. The Republican Presidential Debate was the least watched of the four GOP contests, but set a record for viewership for Fox Business Network.
CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 10.2 million viewers. NBC had 8.3 million viewers, ABC had 6.2 million, Fox had 3.6 million, Univision had 2 million, the CW had 1.6 million, Telemundo had 1.5 million and ION Television had 1.2 million.
ESPN was the most popular cable network, averaging 2.71 million viewers. Fox News Channel had 2.29 million, Hallmark had 1.78 million, USA had 1.51 million and AMC had 1.5 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.3 million viewers, ABC's "World News Tonight" had 8.8 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.8 million.
For the week of Nov. 9-15, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Arizona at Seattle, NBC, 19.39 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 18.13 million; "NCIS," CBS, 16.68 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 14.92 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pregame," NBC, 13.94 million; Republican Presidential Debate, Fox Business, 13.5 million; "Walking Dead," AMC, 12.87 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 12.63 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 12.39 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 12.02 million.
ABC and ESPN are owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. AMC is owned by AMC Networks, Inc.