Cable nets facing reality on Tuesday

Viewers make it a ratings race

Tuesday night has suddenly become a battleground for cable supremacy, fueled by several hot originals.

Leading the charge among new summer skeins was week two of FX’s plastic surgery drama “Nip/Tuck” and Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” which rocketed to another record perf.

“Nip/Tuck” showed some legs, sewing up 3.3 million total viewers (down slightly from last week’s 3.7 million). Among cablers on the night, show placed second only to TNT’s 9 p.m. staple “Law & Order” (3.9 million.)

“The fact that we came out with a meager second week decline — facing ‘Real World’ and ‘Osbournes’ and ‘Queer Eye’ — speaks volumes about the attractiveness of the show and the loyalty of FX viewers,” FX prexy-CEO Peter Liguori said.

“Nip/Tuck” also bested the 18-49 cable competish, posting a 1.7 national rating/5 share (2.1 million viewers).

Third week of Bravo’s “Queer Eye” whipped up the NBC-owned cabler’s highest-ever numbers for a telecast. Showing also boosted the net to the top spot in adults 18-49 among all cable nets from 8-11 p.m.

Episode four of “Queer Eye” attracted a Bravo-best primetime audience of 2.8 million total viewers, jumping 62% week-to-week.

“I didn’t expect this big a bump. For a third week, this is unheard of,” Bravo prexy Jeff Gaspin said. “What it boils down to is people are talking about this show. This is what happened with ‘The Osbournes’ and ‘South Park.’ The show has become a big part of pop culture.

“There are about 114 shows on cable at one time, and I often see Bravo in the 70s,” he said of the cabler’s ratings standing. “To be in the top 10 is amazing.”

Special half-hour seg of “Queer Eye” that ran last Thursday on NBC following “Will & Grace” likely buoyed ratings on the cable net — show made off with nearly 7 million total viewers on the Peacock.

Gaspin said after seeing Tuesday’s record numbers, Bravo may consider doing a similar stunt in the near future. “Before the premiere, the instinct was not to do it again,” he said. “But after seeing this week’s totals, we’re going to have to reconsider. We’ll make a decision after seeing how it does this coming week.”

Meanwhile, 9 p.m. bow of Bravo’s gay-themed dating game “Boy Meets Boy” attracted a solid 1.6 million viewers — on par with “Queer Eye’s” then-record premiere audience. In key demos, skein delivered 1.2 million in adults 18-49 and 1.1 million in 25-54.

Also in the 10 o’clock hour, MTV mainstays “Osbournes” and “Real World” continued to perform well for the music net, drawing 2.3 million and 2.7 million total viewers respectively.

“Nip/Tuck,” “Queer Eye” and “Real World” all edged out a repeat of CBS drama “Judging Amy” in adults 18-49.

“I think cable should take a victory (lap) for the night in providing compelling programming,” Liguori said. “All the Tuesday shows were top quality and did incredibly well.”

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