TNT's 'Lot,' USA's 'Monk' pull viewers

After a tough couple of weeks against the NBA Finals, cable skeins came back with a vengeance over the weekend.

Auds arrived in droves to the premiere of the TNT original “Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot” and the third-season bow of USA hour “Monk.”

The vampires of “Salem’s Lot” snared a staggering 5.9 million viewers Sunday, making it the No. 1 longform program on basic cable this year. Made-for topped cable rankings for the week in total viewers, 18-49 (2.7/8, 3.5 million) and 25-54 (3.0/8, 3.6 million).

“Salem’s Lot” also edged out programming on ABC and Fox among 18-49 and 25- to 54-year-olds.

Monday’s finale to King’s two-parter also performed well, retaining the bulk of viewers (5.3 million).

“Monk” resumed dominating cable rankings with its third-season opener, which spied 5.5 million overall viewers Friday night. Tally bests the show’s first (4.8 million) and second season (5.4 million) premieres.

Skein was the top series on cable for the week. Largest audience for the series to date, however, was an episode in the middle of season two that attracted 6 million.

According to Nielsen, “Monk” notched a 2.4 national rating/7 share in the channel’s core 25-54 demo and a 1.6/8 in 18-49.

Elsewhere on Sunday, the third installment of Discovery Channel’s “Motorcycle Mania” was basic cable’s second-highest-rated show for the week among viewers 18-49 (2.1/6). The autobiographical spec about bike builder/”Monster Garage” host Jesse James drew 3.8 million overall viewers.

Nick at Nite’s first original series, “Fatherhood,” an animated half-hour from Bill Cosby, debuted at 9 to an aud of 1.8 million, up 20% from last year’s time period average.

“The Dead Zone” on USA continued to climb in its third week, with 3.4 million viewers tuning in. Cabler collected 1.9 million viewers for its American Film Institute tribute to Meryl Streep on Monday.

The first installment of a “Smoking Gun” two-parter (807,000 viewers) led Court TV to its highest-rated and most-watched Monday night ever.

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