TNT stays atop cable ratings

NEW YORK — Nine cable networks climbed in the second-quarter primetime Nielsen ratings, nine fell off and 12 stayed about even.

The two biggest gainers were VH1, which jumped to a 0.3 primetime rating in cable homes for the period of March 31 to June 22, 1997 — a 50% gain over its 0.2 rating during the similar period a year ago — and the Learning Channel, which shot up 40%, from a 0.5 to a 0.7.

TNT accelerated its primetime dominance over its cable-network competitors, finishing No. 1 with a 2.4 second-quarter rating, which is 14% higher than the 2.1 it scored a year ago to place first. The No. 2-rated network, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, also grew nicely year to year, from a 1.7 to a 1.9 rating.

The five other beneficiaries of positive second-quarter Nielsen report cards are Lifetime (from 1.4 to 1.5, an increase of 7%); Discovery (1.1 to 1.3, up 18%); Cartoon Network (1.2 to 1.3, up 6%); CNN (0.7 to 0.8, up 14%) and Sci-Fi Channel (0.6 to 0.7, up 17%).

The third and fourth highest-rated networks overall, TBS and USA, both declined 5%, from a 1.9 to a 1.8. ESPN dipped 7%, to a 1.4 from a 1.5, and Family Channel was off 9%, to 1.0 from a 1.1.

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