Aside from Discovery Net’s “Raising the Mammoth” — the top-rated ad-supported basic cable program during first quarter 2000 — all of the top 20 rated programs were episodes of Monday night World Wrestling Federation on USA Net.
Thanks in part to the success of its wrestling franchise, USA ranked No. 1 in primetime among cable nets during the first quarter (Dec. 27, 1999 through March 26). Still, the net was down 8% in primetime ratings and 4% in primetime households compared to the year earlier period, according to Nielsen Media Research data released Tuesday.
Other general entertainment cablers such as TBS and TNT also suffered in primetime.
“It’s been the strongest season in many years for broadcast networks, due to ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ and several strong one-hour dramas,” said Lifetime’s senior VP of research Tim Brooks. “The broad-based networks are disproportionally hurt by the success of the broadcast nets.”
In primetime, TNT dipped 27%, while TBS was down 10%.
Niche nets such as Lifetime — the only one of the top five most-watched cablers not to see decreases in primetime household ratings during the first quarter — fared better. The femme cabler has had its strongest March in history, averaging a 1.8 in primetime — a 7% increase over March 1999. For the quarter, Lifetime was flat in primetime with a 1.7 rating.
Meanwhile, Nickelodeon remains the most-watched cable net on a total day basis and among kids 2-11 for the 18th consecutive quarter. But, in primetime, the net sagged 6% during the first quarter compared to the year earlier period.
Toon net up
Cartoon Network posted its best-ever first quarter in primetime ratings and delivery among households, up 7% and 11%, respectively, over first quarter 1999. Among the other primetime gainers year on year, MTV improved by 29% (0.7 to 0.9); Discovery, 8% (1.2 to 1.3); and Bravo, 50% (0.2 to 0.3). The History Channel was up 13% (0.8 to 0.9) and sister net A&E improved by 7% (1.4 to 1.5). Still on a roll, Court TV was up a whopping 200% (0.2 to 0.6).
Among the primetime decliners, TNN skidded by 33% (1.0 to 0.7); Family Channel, 11% (0.9 to 0.8); and CNN, 20% (1.0 to 0.8). Most notably, CNBC dipped 43% in primetime (0.7 to 0.4). In total day, however, the net was flat from last year with an average rating of 0.4, while CNN was down 33% (0.6 to 0.4).