HBO wins big in summer ’99 ratings derby

Cabler takes 145 of top 150 spots

NEW YORK — Of the top 150 rated pay TV shows this summer, HBO obliterated the competition by nabbing 145 of the spots.

HBO’s premiere of “Lethal Weapon 4” was the highest-rated pay TV program for the summer with a 13.8/25.2 (4.1 million homes). Its June 5 boxing doubleheader finished second with a 12.1/21.2 (3.3 million homes).

The cabler’s “Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker,” an original standup comedy special, followed with a 12.0/24.6 (3.6 million homes) for its July 10 premiere.

The premieres of theatrical films “Dr. Dolittle” and “The Negotiator” rounded out the top 5.

HBO’s original series “Sex in the City” scored very well, followed closely by “Oz” and repeats of “The Sopranos.”

Showtime’s “Bonnano” (No. 138) was the cabler’s only original to break into the top 150.

Popularity pays off for pay TV nets, since that often translates into more subs and the retention of current subscribers.

This summer’s ratings indicate how important original series have become for HBO.

Episodes of the half-hour comedy “Sex in the City” scored as high as an 8.6 rating/13.4 share (2.6 million households) in HBO homes, according to Nielsen Media Research, good for the number 23 pay TV show for the period from Memorial Day through Aug. 22.

Nine episodes of “Sex in the City” scored a 7.2 rating or higher. The show is performing slightly better than it did a year ago.

HBO’s brutal prison drama “Oz” also scored as high as an 8.6/13.2 (2.6 million households). Six episodes of “Oz” scored at least a 7.1 rating. The hour-long series is also up slightly compared to a year ago.

Reruns of HBO’s acclaimed Mafia drama “The Sopranos” topped out at 7.8/11.8 (2.3 million households).

Showtime’s highest-rated program this summer was the theatrical film “Godzilla,” which ranked No. 46 with a 7.8/14.8 (1.3 million households) in homes that have Showtime.

Showtime’s second-best performance came form “Deep Impact,” which ranked No. 95 with a 6.6/11.6 (1.1 million homes.

Part 1 of Showtime’s originally produced mobster miniseries “Bonnano” landed at No. 138 with a 6.1 rating/9.9 (1.0 million homes).

HBO’s original telefilm “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” scored well at No. 10 with a 10.4/18.8 (3.1 million households).

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