Pay TV nabs a 51.4 share vs. 45.0 over holiday period

NEW YORK — For the first time ever, basic cable has beaten the seven broadcast networks in a November primetime sweep, delivering an average of 32.9 million homes compared with broadcast’s 32.2 million.

Those numbers, compiled by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau from Nielsen data, “are just a further indication of the fact that, up to now, the broadcast season is a bust,” said Tim Brooks, senior VP of research for Lifetime. “No big broadcast miniseries dominated the November sweeps, and many of the network’s rookie series, like ‘Coupling’ and ‘Miss Match,’ have fallen by the wayside.”

In overall numbers, Brooks said that while the ratings of ad-supported cable networks were shooting up by 10% in November, those of the seven broadcast networks dropped by 2%. And in November-to-November shares, cable grew from a 44.7 to a 48.3 while broadcast was slipping from a 50.5 to a 48.6.

The CAB said cable’s best week came in the Thanksgiving period (Nov. 24-30) when it racked up a 51.4 share in primetime compared with a 45.0 for the broadcasters.

Brooks said cable’s strong November is particularly noteworthy because most cable networks held back from scheduling their highest visibility special programming. “Cable networks are always wary in drawing up their November schedules,” he said. “Cable knows that the broadcasters make so much noise in November with the marketing and promotion of their original shows.”

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