NEW YORK — Basic cable as a category had a bang-up July, harvesting more viewers than any previous sweep period.
Among the top 10-rated networks, the two biggest July beneficiaries of cable’s hot summer were Lifetime and TNN: The National Network.
Lifetime shot up by 24% from July 2000, its 2.1 average rating in cable homes propelling it to a comfortable three-tenths of a rating point lead over second-place Nickelodeon, which was up 6% from last year.
TNN gained a whopping 67% in July compared with the same period last year, thanks to the continued Nielsen strength of Monday-night WWF wrestling. TNN averaged a 1.0 primetime rating in July, which put it in a ninth-place tie with AMC.
Dozen up, dozen down
Among the 42 networks analyzed by Turner Entertainment researchers for July, 12 were up year to year and 12 were down.
In addition to TNN and Lifetime, the networks that rose by double digits in the ratings from July 2000 (in order of their overall ranking) were AMC (an 11% gain), History Channel (up 13%), Fox News Channel (up 100%), CNN (up 40%), BET (up 20%), TV Guide Channel (up 20%), Game Show Channel (up 25%), Travel Channel (up 33%) and Bravo (up 33%).
The networks stuck in the double-digit doldrums were (again, according to their ranking): USA (down 23%), Cartoon Network (down 15%), A&E (down 20%), ESPN (down 18%), MTV (down 11%), Fox Family (down 14%), TV Land (down 14%), WGN (down 17%), ESPN2 (down 20%), VH1 (down 20%) and Country Music TV (down 33%).
A “Rugrats” hourlong primetime special on Nickelodeon July 21 ended as the highest-rated individual July program by far, reaping a 7.2 rating in cable homes.
The best-performing original movies for the month were Part One of TNT’s “Mists of Avalon” July 15, with a 5.6, and Lifetime’s “Dangerous Child,” starring Delta Burke, which came in with a 5.2 rating. (Part Two of “Avalon” lost more than a million households from Part One, winding up with a 4.0 rating on July 16.)