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Cable shows aren’t so niche anymore

'Duck Dynasty,' 'Hardcore Pawn' among standouts

As the hand-wringing over declining same-night viewing continues at the broadcast networks, cable continues to gobble up bigger slices of the available audience.

The broadcasters have already been humbled as dramas like “The Walking Dead” and “Sons of Anarchy” beat their counterparts in the 18-49 demo. But each night this week has seen seemingly niche cable reality series — including TruTV’s “Hardcore Pawn” on Tuesday and A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” on Wednesday — standing tall opposite the Big Four.

On Wednesday, according to Nielsen estimates, “Duck Dynasty” aired back-to-back episodes in the 10 o’clock hour that drew more than 4 million viewers. The 10:30 p.m. seg grew to 4.42 million and earned a national adults 18-49 rating/share (2.0/6) that was better than the second half of either ABC’s “Nashville” or NBC’s “Chicago Fire” — rookie series that each did a 1.7/5 in the demo while drawing about 5.7 million viewers overall.

On all of television, only CBS vet “CSI” beat “Duck Dynasty” in 18-49 (2.5/7), drawing about 11 million total viewers.

One night earlier, TruTV’s “Hardcore Pawn” returned to kick off the second half of its sixth season to the best-ever numbers for the cabler (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.08 million viewers overall). It was cable’s No. 1 original series in the 9 o’clock hour and likely took away viewers from the young-skewing comedies in the timeslot on ABC, NBC and Fox, none of which did more than 6.1 million total viewers.

And on Monday, MTV’s “Teen Mom II” averaged a 2.0/5 in 18-49 and 3.41 million viewers overall. While the total-viewer count may not sound like much, the demo score was neck and neck with those of dramas “Hawaii Five-0” on CBS and “Castle” on ABC, and “Teen Mom” beat them both as well as NBC’s first-year drama hit “Revolution” in adults 18-34 (3.0/9 to 1.7/5). And “Mom” obliterated everything in its path in women 18-34 (4.7/12), even topping NBC’s “The Voice” (4.6/12 from 8 to 10 p.m.) as TV’s top-rated program for the night.

Also over the last week, “Walking Dead” and “Sons of Anarchy” — dramas unlike anything the broadcasters have to offer — have both handily defeated their timeslot drama rivals. AMC’s zombie skein “Dead” did a monster 5.6/15 in 18-49 and 10.37 million viewers overall Sunday to rate as TV’s top-rated scripted program of the night — and week. And on Tuesday of this week, FX’s series about an outlaw motorcycle club pulled a 2.4/8 in 18-49, overpowering the three broadcast dramas in its 10 o’clock timeslot: NBC’s “Parenthood” (1.9/5), CBS’ “Vegas” (1.6/5) and ABC’s “Private Practice” (1.1/3). “Sons” was also TV’s top-rated scripted hour for the night in 18-34 (2.4/8).

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