TNT is Summer’s Scripted Cable Leader; Net’s ‘Last Ship,’ FX’s ‘The Strain’ Top New Shows

The Last Ship TNT

USA maintained its status as basic cable’s top summer network in key demos, but TNT emerged as the clear scripted leader — getting a boost from hot newcomer “The Last Ship.”

The Turner net, which aired an unprecedented nine original firstrun dramas at one point or another this summer, won the warm-weather period in total viewers, handing USA a rare setback by this measure. And it did it by ruling the original-series program rankings.

According to Nielsen preliminary “most current” summer estimates from May 26-Aug. 24, TNT could claim four of basic cable’s top 20 original series in adults 18-49 (“The Last Ship,” “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Falling Skies” and “Major Crimes”) — more than any other network and twice as many as it had last year. Bravo, Discovery, MTV and VH1 all had two apiece.

And the net was even more dominant in adults 25-54, with four of the top five scripted basic cable series, and in total viewers, with six of the top 10.

TNT was one of numerous top-tier cable networks down by double-digits from last year, with most of its declines attributed to stronger NBA conference finals numbers in 2013. The net notes that its original summer series averaged 5.6 million viewers this year, up 23% from last year. They have also performed 9% better in adults 18-49 and 13% in adults 25-54.

Cable’s top two original scripted series in adults 18-49 this summer — FX’s “The Strain” and “The Last Ship” (pictured) — were newcomers. Both shows, whose final averages should rise with more recent DVR data, lagged NBC’s “The Night Shift,” which was summer’s top new show overall.

“Strain” was also the top new cable series (scripted or unscripted) in adults 18-34, while “Last Ship” was the top-rated among adults 25-54 and total viewers.

Joining “The Strain” among the top 10 cable series of the summer in 18-49 were two other FX shows, “Fargo” and “Tyrant.”

The top two summer cable programs of any genre in adults 18-49 were returning reality series — A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” which finished on top despite a roughly 50% year-over-year falloff, and VH1’s “Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta,” which was up vs. last year.

The highest-rated new unscripted series of the summer in adults 18-49 were Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta: Kandi’s Wedding,” E!’s “Botched” and TLC’s “Return to Amish.” In adults 25-54 and total viewers, the other reality show among the top 10 new summer cable series was History’s “Pawnography.”

Among the younger 12-34 crowd, summer’s biggest new shows were Disney Channel’s “Girl Meets World” (1.72 million), MTV’s “Finding Carter” (1.36 million), FX’s “The Strain” (1.21 million), MTV’s “Faking It” (1.18 million) and Adult Swim’s “Black Jesus” (1.17 million).

(Most current through Aug. 24)

Adults 18-49
USA                 919,000
TBS                  826,000
TNT                 738,000
Adult Swim    704,000
FX                    657,000
Discovery       654,000
History           644,000
ESPN              626,000
A&E                564,000
ABC Family   551,000

Adults 25-54
USA                 962,000
TNT                 894,000
TBS                  837,000
History           790,000
Discovery       737,000
ESPN              660,000
FX                   635,000
A&E                629,000
HGTV             564,000
Food               551,000

Total Viewers
TNT                2.515 million
USA                2.273 million
Disney           2.040 million
History          1.936 million
Fox News      1.748 million
TBS                1.627 million
ESPN             1.519 million
HGTV            1.447 million
A&E               1.432 million
Nick@Nite   1.413 million



Adults 18-49
1.  Duck Dynasty (A&E), 2.996 million (2.36 rating)
2.  Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta (VH1), 2.913 million (2.29 rating)
3.  Keeping Up With the Kardashians (E!), 2.288 (1.80 rating)
4.  The Strain (FX), 2.214 million (1.74 rating)
5.  Teen Mom II (MTV), 2.208 million (1.74 rating)
6.  The Last Ship (TNT), 2.050 million (1.61 rating)
7.  Rizzoli & Isles (TNT), 2.004 million (1.58 rating)
8.  Deadliest Catch (Discovery), 1.928 million (1.52 rating)
9.  Catfish: The TV Show (MTV), 1.897 million (1.49 rating)
10.  Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family), 1.843 million (1.45 rating)

Total Viewers
1.  Rizzoli & Isles (TNT), 7.576 million
2.  Major Crimes (TNT), 7.130 million
3.  The Last Ship (TNT), 6.365 million
4.  Duck Dynasty (A&E), 5.916 million
5.  Longmire (A&E), 5.646 million
6.  Murder in the First (TNT), 4.491 million
7.  Falling Skies (TNT), 4.410 million
8.  Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta (VH1), 4.384 million
9.  Perception (TNT), 4.185 million
10.  Pawn Stars (History), 4.170 million


Adults 18-49
1.  The Strain (FX), 2.214 million (1.74 rating)
2.  The Last Ship (TNT), 2.050 million (1.61 rating)
3.  Real Housewives of Atlanta: Kandi’s Wedding (Bravo), 1.744 million (1.37 rating)
4.  Fargo (FX), 1.521 million (1.20 rating)
5.  Tyrant (FX), 1.209 million (0.95 rating)
6.  Dominion (Syfy), 1.198 million (0.94 rating)
7.  Black Jesus (Adult Swim), 1.196 million (0.94 rating)
8.  Botched (E!), 1.141 million (0.90 rating)
9.  Return to Amish (TLC), 1.094 million (0.86 rating)
10.  Finding Carter (MTV), 1.065 million (0.84 rating)

Total Viewers
1.  The Last Ship (TNT), 6.365 million
2.  Murder in the First (TNT), 4.491 million
3.  The Strain (FX), 3.869 million
4.  Fargo (FX), 3.714 million
5.  Real Housewives of Atlanta: Kandi’s Wedding (Bravo), 3.174 million
6.  Dominion (Syfy), 2.670 million
7.  Tyrant (FX), 2.619 million
8.  Pawnography (History), 2.582 million
9.  Return to Amish (TLC), 2.477 million
10.  Legends (TNT), 2.152 million


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  1. ejknight says:

    What happened to Dallas. Where does that fall in the ratings numbers?

  2. wks9370 says:

    I see the same ‘brick wall’ blocking the path for the “Last Ship” further down the road. What happens now? A cure has been found, love ones have been reunited, the Captain and crew are Back in the USA’. All is well, except for a few deranged lunatics. The acting president (Alfre Woodard – as enticing as she always is – good casting!) has something up her sleeve… Maybe the story turns now to the rebuilding of a functioning government and the struggles and obstacles it brings. Will the Captain of the Nathan James, in disagreement with Alfre Woodard sneaky plans not to vaccinate everyone – gets in a confrontation that turns real ugly. Leaving him no choice but to attempt a coup,

    Just don’t fail like Bassam did in the finale of Tyrant – which was approaching boredom until the last two eps revived my excitement. for it. What a great story idea for a continuing storyline show.

  3. wks9370 says:

    Continuing story lines run into a problem when they are not well thought out for the long run… Can it sustain a 12 ep per year, 6 on 6 off, show for a 5 year run. Shows like Grey’s Anatomy,and Scandal have and will, but only after Shonda Rhimes was forced to go back to the drawing board for the start of Season 3 and write in the Mama Pope and Papa Pope roles as a heinous villains #1 an #2. Because she was painting herself into a corner with a White House crisis every week – unbelievable!

    Now the Scandal writers have built their house on sturdier ground, with numerous entrances and exits.

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