April cruel to cable

Only Lifetime, TNN and History beat slump

NEW YORK — April wasn’t kind to the top 10 rated cable networks: Only Lifetime, TNN: The National Network and History Channel showed Nielsen gains in primetime for the year.

Lifetime continues on a primetime roll, finishing first for the month in April with a 1.9 rating in cable homes, a 6% increase from the same period in 2000, after coming out on top for the first quarter of the year.

TNN, propelled by its Monday-night “Raw Is War” slamfests from the World Wrestling Federation, shot up by 67% April to April, although it still has a way to go to match the numbers of general entertainment rivals USA, TBS and TNT. With its 1.0 rating for April 2001, TNN tied for ninth place with History Channel, which was up 11% from April a year ago.

USA tied for second with Cartoon Network in April, both averaging a primetime rating of 1.7 in cable homes. But USA plunged by 26% from its 2.3 rating in April 2000 after losing “Raw Is War” to TNN. Cartoon was flat year-to-year.

The other top 10 networks showing a primetime dip, in order of their ranking, are Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, down 11%; TBS (21%); TNT (12%); A&E (8%); and Discovery (14%).

The double-digit gainers in April among networks below the top 10 are Comedy Central (up 17%), Fox News (17%), BET (20%), Food Network (25%), Odyssey (67%) and Travel Channel (33%).

Networks that skidded by double-digit ratings are ESPN (down 27%), American Movie Classics (13%), ESPN2 (20%), VH1 (20%) and Bravo (25%).