Leading cabler TNT up 5% from last year

NEW YORK — The Disney Channel delivered one of its best monthly ratings performances ever, shooting up by 30% in the July primetime Nielsens to finish second among all cable networks behind TNT.

For the month, TNT harvested 2.21 million total viewers in primetime, up 5% from last July, compared to 2.12 million for Disney Channel.

The next five highest-rated cable networks were down in primetime from July 2002, four by double digits: TBS in third place (down 11%), Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite fourth (down 10%), Cartoon fifth (down 1%), Lifetime sixth (down 19%) and USA seventh (down 22%).

But the three that rounded out the top 10-rated networks in July all added viewers year to year: eighth-place A&E (up 10%), Fox News Channel in ninth (up 13%) and Discovery Channel (up 8%) at No. 10.

While Fox News Channel’s primetime audience was growing from July 2002, its two main news competitors were skidding in July, with CNN (in 23rd place over all) off by 26% and MSNBC (40th place) down by 37%.

The highest-rated individual program for the month was the Sandra Bullock comedy “Miss Congeniality” on TBS, which chalked up 6.3 million viewers on July 6 and another 4.4 million during a second run on the same night.

Sunday afternoon NASCAR events covered by TNT on July 27 (6.0 million viewers) and on July 20 (5.87 million) finished second and third among individual shows. Six out of the seven remaining top 10 programs were hourlong episodes of TNT’s Monday-night World Wrestling Federation extravaganzas. ESPN’s annual pre-All Star Game “Home Run Derby” pulled in 5.2 million viewers on July 14 to come in seventh overall.

Among original scripted series, USA seized bragging rights by placing three separate primetime episodes of “Monk” in the top 30, led by the July 18 hour, which arrested 4.07 million viewers to place 15th.

The rookie standout for July was FX’s premiere of “Nip/Tuck,” which carved out 3.7 million viewers to come in at No. 20.

Below the top 10-rated networks in primetime for July, the following climbed by double digits (in order of their overall finish): TLC (up 15%), History Channel (up 11%), Court TV (up 11%), HGTV (up 12%), BET (up 24%) and Food Network (up 14%)

Also, Hallmark Channel (up 65%), VH1 (up 23%), Bravo (up 39%), Travel Channel (up 57%), Weather Channel (up 27%), Country Music TV (up 27%), Lifetime Movie Network (up 20%), Soap Net (up 89%), Toon Disney (up 11%) and Fuse, formerly Much Music (up 44%).

The double-digit decliners, also in order of their overall finish were: ESPN (down 11%), Comedy Central (down 13%), WGN Superstation (down 20%), TV Guide Channel (down 17%), CNN Headline News (down 18%) and CNBC (down 35%).

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