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USA continues primetime winning streak

Cabler narrowly beats basketball-boosted TNT

USA Network continued its primetime winning streak in the second quarter of 2009, taking home the 18-49 demo crown by narrowly beating basketball-boosted TNT. Cabler won for the 16th straight quarter among ad-supported entertainment networks.

In the demo, USA — down 14% from a year ago — drew 1.2 million viewers, driven by the heat of originals including “Burn Notice” and “Royal Pains” and “NCIS” encores. TNT was down 10% from 2009’s second quarter and placed just behind USA, with only 1,000 less viewers. Turner sister station TBS was third with 917,000.

Of the top 10 nets in the demo, only ESPN, History and ABC Family showed improvement. ESPN, of course, has the benefit of televising the World Cup. Other cablers to have shown double-digit growth in the demo in primetime include Bravo, E!, Cartoon Network and TV Land.

In overall viewers during primetime, USA had a more dominant lead as the NBC Universal cabler drew 3.2 million compared to TNT’s 2.4 million. Nick at Nite, History, A&E and Cartoon increased viewer totals among top 10 nets based on total audience in primetime.

For total day, TNT led in adults 18-49 with 687,000. Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite drew more viewers on a total-day measure than any other cabler, followed by USA and TNT.

Of the top cable programs of the second quarter, the NBA playoff games dominated. The May 13 Cleveland Cavaliers-Boston Celtics matchup on ESPN drew 8.9 million, the most of any program. Basketball, which aired on both ESPN and TNT, took seven of the top 10 spots. USA skeins “Burn Notice” and “Royal Pains” made the list while Nickelodeon “iCarly” movie “iPsycho” fared best among nonsports programming.

On the news side, Fox News continues continues to dominate MSNBC and CNN, topping its rivals combined. MSNBC made a point of noting that it has topped CNN in primetime for the year to date, with MSNBC averaging 765,000 viewers (down 5% over the same period last year) to CNN’s 596,000 (down 31%). Fox News is pulling in 1.9 million, down 10%.

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