NEW YORK — Al Pacino snorted his way to the No. 1-rated movie in basic cable last week when a special four-hour cablecast of the 1983 “Scarface” on the USA Network Sunday night harvested 3.6 million viewers.
And although the overall audience was much smaller, Oxygen parlayed three runs of its first-ever original movie “Tale of Two Wives” last weekend into the network’s second best weekly primetime ratings in its four-year history.
With “Scarface,” USA was able to play off the momentum of distributor Universal’s heavy marketing campaign over the past two months pushing the 20th-anniversary release of the movie on DVD.
“Scarface” and a batch of reruns of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” helped USA to solid third-place finishes in three key demos for the week: adults 18 to 34, 18 to 49 and 25 to 54.
Oxygen chalked up 385,000 viewers for the premiere run of “Tale of Two Wives” Saturday at 8 p.m., making it the network’s fourth-highest-rated Saturday movie, behind “Four Weddings & a Funeral,” “Dr. T & the Women” and “Where the Heart Is.”
The one negative for Oxygen is that, among adult women watching the Saturday-at-8 “Wives,” 67% of them were 50 or older, preventing the movie from pulling in the premium ad rates that Madison Ave. will pony up for women 18 to 49.
Lifetime’s Monday original movie about an FBI profiler, “Killer Instinct: From the Files of Candice DeLong,” didn’t draw the big Nielsens that recent Lifetime made-fors have delivered. But the movie’s 2.69 million total viewers clocked in at well above the network’s primetime average of 1.8 million for the week.
Overall, ESPN won the week in total viewers among all basic-cable networks, driven by the huge audiences that zeroed in on the 49ers-Seahawks NFL game on Sunday and an Ohio State-Wisconsin college football game on Saturday.
Disney Channel finished second in primetime for the week, followed by Nickelodeon, TNT, USA, Cartoon and Lifetime.