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USA tops basic cable ratings

CNN down 23% in prime demo

USA Network continued its ratings hot streak in the first quarter, finishing the frame as the No. 1 basic cabler in primetime and enjoying double-digit percentage gains across all key demos, while MSNBC notably ended the quarter ahead of rival CNN in a key cable-news demo.

Driven by “Burn Notice,” the top-rated original series on basic cable in the first quarter, USA experienced a 12% overall uptick in average total primetime viewers and a 15% increase in average viewers 18-49 to finish on top in both categories.

Finishing second in the quarter behind USA in total primetime viewers was Fox News, which experienced a 25% year-to-year bump in total audience, averaging nearly 2.3 million viewers in primetime, and a 20% uptick in the target cable-news demo of adults 25-54, averaging 515,000 viewers in that demo. Fox News once again finished on top among cable news nets.

Perennially running second to Fox News in recent years in the competitive cable news race, CNN is now being challenged by MSNBC.

For the quarter, CNN slipped 23% in primetime adult viewers 25-54, edged slightly by MSNBC, 346,000 to 343,000, in average demo performance.

For the quarter, MSNBC was up 23% in primetime audience, averaging 957,000 viewers.

CNN, however, still led MSNBC in total day ratings.

Meanwhile, CNN’s Turner family sibling Headline News Network saw a 54% year-to-year increase in primetime viewership, averaging 656,000 viewers during the first quarter.

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