Viewers elect ‘President’

Cable records all-time primetime ratings high

Driven by the television premiere of “The American President” and wrestling, basic cable last week recorded its all-time high primetime ratings.

For the week Aug. 10-16, basic cable scored a 25.0 rating, breaking the previous high of a 24.0 set March 16-22, 1998, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

Last week, basic cable averaged 24.5 million households and a 47 share. The previous record, a 46 share, was set the week of June 22-28, 1998.

Basic cable last week beat the six broadcast networks’ combined performance of a 23.5 rating/44 share.

The six broadcast webs averaged 23.2 million households — 1.34 million homes less than basic cable.

The No. 1-rated basic cable show was TBS Superstation’s Sunday, Aug. 16, 8 p.m. premiere of “The American President,” which scored a 6.6 rating/11 share in TBS’ universe. The program delivered nearly 5 million households.

TBS said the performance represented the largest audience for any theatrical film in basic cable history.

The repeat of “The American President” also ranked in basic cable’s top-10 for the week, with a 4.1 rating/9 share at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday.

USA Network’s Monday night “WWF Wrestling” tied with ESPN’s Sunday afternoon NASCAR race with a 4.8 universe rating.

Discovery Channel’s “Titanic Live” drew a 4.1 rating/7 share Sunday night from 8-10 p.m.

The performance of “The American President” drove TBS to the primetime ratings lead for the week, with a 2.5 average rating/4.5 share and 1.8 million homes.

USA, led by WWF Wrestling, ranked second with a 2.4 rating/4.1 share, followed by Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite with a 2.3/4.0.

TNT tied with the new Fox Family Channel for fourth place with a 1.9 rating. “Titanic Live” helped Discovery score a 1.6 rating, tied with Lifetime and Cartoon Network.

Nickelodeon won basic cable’s total day race with a 1.7 rating and 1.2 million households.

The overall basic cable rating of 25.0 was 16.8% more than the same week a year ago. Cable’s 24.5 million household delivery was good for a 17.9% increase compared with last year.

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