Cable nets slip in Feb.

USA down 4%, Nickelodeon falls 11%

Up against powerhouse network sweeps programming, ad-supported cable networks faltered during February, with seven of the top-10 ranked nets down in primetime ratings from last year.

While USA Network finished first among all ad-supported cable nets in primetime in February, the cabler — which has been propelled in recent months by strong ratings for “WWF Monday Night Wrestling” and original movies — stumbled, with a 2.4 average primetime rating in cable homes, 4% lower than for the same period in 1999.

Nick still hot

Nickelodeon tied with TBS for second place in primetime for the month with a 1.7, down 11% from last year during the same period. The kids cabler once again commanded the top spot among all cable nets in national household ratings for total day, with a 1.5 rating in cable homes, comfortably ahead of TBS, which averaged a 1.2 rating. Meanwhile, in primetime, TBS was down 19% from last year at this time.

Turner’s Cartoon Network ranked fourth, averaging a 1.6 in cable homes, flat from last year, while TNT tied Lifetime in fifth place with a 1.5, down 29% from last year (2.1). Lifetime was down 6% over last year (1.6). But, the femme cabler posted its highest total day average for any February in its 16-year history, with a 1.1 household rating, a 10% increase over February 1999.

TNN takes fall

Among the primetime decliners February to February, TNN skidded by 22% (0.9 to 0.7). Family Channel dipped 13% (0.8 to 0.7), and CNN was down 11% (0.9 to 0.8). Most notably, CNBC dipped 43% (0.7 to 0.4). In total day, however, the net is flat from last year with an average rating of 0.4, while CNN was down 33% (0.6 to 0.4).

Meanwhile, the History Channel had its highest rated average primetime in February for the second month in a row with a 0.9, up 13% over last year (0.8). Among the other primetime gainers Feb. to Feb., MTV improved by 29% (0.7 to 0.9), Discovery was up by 9% (1.1 to 1.2), Bravo improved by 50% (0.3 from 0.2) and Sci-Fi gained by 50% (0.6 to 0.9). Still on a roll, Court TV was up a whopping 200% (from 0.2 to 0.6).

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