Cartoon, A&E and Lifetime top July chart

Cable nets show double-digit gains

NEW YORK– July was a terrific month for the Cartoon Network, Lifetime and A&E among the top 10-rated cable networks in primetime. Three other top 10 channels — TNT, ESPN and MTV — are happy only that July has ended and hope August may restore some of their lost viewers.

The three July winners all harvested double-digit gains in the Nielsen primetime ratings. Cartoon shot up by 11%, from a 1.8 rating in July 1999 to a 2.0 this July, finishing with the best primetime Nielsen month in its history among both households and kids 2-11.

Cartoon was the second highest-rated network in primetime for July, behind USA, which chalked up a 2.2 rating. (All the rating numbers in this story are for cable households only.)

Lifetime jump

Lifetime jumped by 13%, from a 1.5 to a 1.7 rating July to July, ending up in a fourth-place tie with Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite for primetime supremacy. A&E shot up 15% (1.3 to a 1.5 primetime rating), finishing in seventh place for the month.

On the other side of the top 10 coin, TNT stumbled by 11% (1.8 to a 1.6 primetime rating, dropping it from a tie for second in July ’99 to sixth place this July).

But it wasn’t all bad news for TNT: Its four-hour “Nuremberg” miniseries with Alec Baldwin became basic cable’s most-watched original mini of all time for the cumulative ratings of the first play and the five repeats throughout July.

ESPN fell by 17% (1.2 to a 1.0 primetime rating), and MTV plunged by 18% (1.1 to 0.9).

The seven highest-rated individual programs for July were one-hour episodes of USA’s Monday-night World Wrestling Federation contests.

These audience-generators helped USA vault into first place in basic cable for the month. USA will lose this Nielsen bonanza in the third week of September when the WWF rumbles over to TNN as the result of a lawsuit that TNN parent company Viacom won against USA in Delaware two months ago.

But USA’s researchers say that, even when they subtract the WWF’s numbers from the network’s monthly primetime ratings this July, USA still comes up with a solid 1.8 rating, which would place it in a tie for second place with TBS.

In total day, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, which comes in first in this category every week, delivered unusually gaudy Nielsens. July 2000 saw the network’s best monthly ratings ever in households and kids 2-11.

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