‘Law’ and NBA spark TNT

Net showed gains of between 5 - 9%

NEW YORK — The NBA All-Star Game and multiple rerun episodes of “Law & Order” propelled TNT to a first-place finish in primetime among all ad-supported cable networks in total viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 during the first quarter.

In all three categories, TNT showed gains of between 5% and 9% from a year earlier. Net also climbed by 4% in adults 18-34 but wound up in second place in that demo, beaten by sibling TBS, which shot up by 15% from the first quarter a year ago.

TNT’s numbers reflected the overall strength of cable TV, whose 60-plus channels beat the six broadcast networks as a category during the first quarter for the third year in a row.

Roast boast

More entertainment shows than usual plowed their way into the list of the 50 top-rated programs for the quarter, led by Comedy Central’s roast of Jeff Foxworthy, which was fifth overall, harvesting 6.2 million total viewers on March 20, and “Blue Collar Comedy Tour 2,” also on Comedy Central and featuring Foxworthy, which finished eighth, with 6.1 million viewers.

Five episodes of USA’s original series “Monk” finished among the top 30 programs of the quarter, and three separate hours of “Law & Order” landed in the top 35 for USA.

The best-performing theatrical movie of the month was “The Scooby-Doo Movie,” which averaged more than 4.8 million viewers on Nickelodeon over two runs on March 18 (35th overall) and 19 (31st overall).

Net increase

The best indication that cable TV chalked up an impressive first quarter comes with the number of Nielsen-reported networks that increased their primetime ratings among total viewers by double digits over those of 2004. In order of their ranking, the nets are Cartoon (up 17%), Fox News (up 15%), Spike TV (up 44%), ESPN (up 14%), ABC Family (up 10%) and Comedy Central (up 19%).

Also, TV Land (up 13%), Hallmark Channel (up 22%), Food Network (up 15%), VH1 (up 19%), National Geographic Channel (up 67%) and Toon Disney (up 14%).

Also, CNN Headline News (up 23%), Speed Channel (up 23%), Discovery Health (up 43%), Oxygen (up 16%), Noggin (123%) and Turner South (up 120%).

On the down side, the following nets fell off by double digits quarter to quarter, also according to ranking: Discovery Channel (down 26%), TLC (down 34%), Animal Planet (down 12%), E! Entertainment TV (down 13%), Game Show Network (down 25%), WE: Women’s Entertainment (down 13%), CNBC (down 35%) and BBC America (down 24%).

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