USA Net top among cablers

NEW YORK — The USA network finished No. 1 in the ratings among all cable networks for the week ended June 15, and Tim Brooks, USA’s senior VP of research, said these numbers could be a sign that the network is heading for a summer of Nielsen bliss.

“We won last week with repeats of our four flagship Sunday series,” says Brooks, referring to “Pacific Blue” at 8, “Silk Stalkings” at 9, “La Femme Nikita” at 10 and “The Big Easy” at 11. “On June 22, each of the these shows will come in with all-new episodes, and we’ll be putting a ton of promotion behind them.”

USA is coming off its usual audience falloff during April and May, when National Basketball Assn. playoff games traditionally swell the numbers of TNT and, to a lesser extent, TBS.

For example, TNT won the May sweeps by a huge margin, harvesting a 3.1 primetime rating in cable homes compared to a 1.8 rating for the second-place Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite. TBS and USA tied for third place with a 1.7 rating.

For the week ended June 15, USA averaged a 1.9 primetime rating, beating both TNT and Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, which tied for second with a 1.8.

The rest of the top 10 for the week were TBS, with a 1.6 rating, Lifetime (1.5), Cartoon (1.4), A&E (1.3), Discovery and ESPN (tied with a 1.2) and MTV (1.0).

USA’s biggest ratings-getters for the week were “Sins of the Mind,” a firstrun made-for on Wednesday, June 11, which got a 3.3 rating in cable homes, and the theatrical movie “Good Morning, Vietnam” the next night, which wound up eighth among adults 18 to 49.

USA also scored on Sunday afternoon with the “Parenthood” theatrical, which was 10th in both the 18-49 and 25-54 demos. The highest-rated individual show for the week was “The 1997 MTV Awards,” which racked up a 3.9 rating in cable homes.

“Cable as a category should finish with another strong summer,” Brooks concluded, “because there are no Summer Olympics Games or any other events to drive up the broadcast ratings.”

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