Cable auds return to normalcy

Lifetime finishes close second in primetime behind CNN

Cable subscribers showed some definite signs during October that viewing habits were at least beginning to return to their pattern before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Lifetime finished in a close second in primetime behind CNN, averaging 1.49 million households, a gain of 17% over the numbers of October 2000. Leading the way were the net’s usual mix of original series, such as “Strong Medicine,” and movie repeats like “A Promise to Carolyn.”

TNT, feeding off big numbers from two plays of the TV premiere of the Julia Roberts theatrical “Stepmom” and a slotting of the Chris Tucker-Jackie Chan “Rush Hour,” came in third for the month, chalking up 1.46 million households, a 35% leap over those of last October.

Bunched together from fourth to sixth place in primetime were ESPN (1.41 million households, the same as October a year ago), Cartoon Network (1.4 million, up 9%) and TBS (1.397 million, down 9%).

Still, fueled by terrorism coverage, the cable-news networks continued to enjoy big gains over last October.

During primetime, CNN averaged 1.53 million households, up 125% compared to October 2000, while Fox News averaged 1.18 million households, a gain of 146%. MSNBC averaged 772,000 households, up by a dramatic 202%.

During total day, CNN averaged 1.09 million households, up 216% from last October. Fox News averaged 753,000 households, a whopping improvement of 266%. Meanwhile, MSNBC averaged 582,000 households, up 242%, which reps the net’s best total-day audience in its five-year history.

Among the key news demo of adults 25-54, in primetime, CNN averaged 799,000 households, up 177% from last October. Fox News averaged 640,000 households, up 217%, and MSNBC averaged 568,000 households, a gain of 242%.

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