×

Cable flashes hot rates

Lifetime, TNN up 24 and 67% in ratings, others drop

NEW YORK — Cable is on a roll this summer, besting the six broadcast networks decisively in the ratings after much tougher competition from the broadcasters during the summer months of 1999 and 2000.

But cable’s hot summer didn’t carry over to the top-10-rated basic networks, eight of which were either down or flat in primetime from the previous summer. The two that scored summer gains were Lifetime, the No. 1-rated network, up 24%, and TNN, up 67% (thanks mostly to its pickup of the World Wrestling Federation two-hour Monday-night slamfest, which last year resided at USA).

Without the WWF, USA, tied for No. 2 in primetime with Cartoon Network overall, was down the most this summer, by 18%. Cartoon dropped by 5%. TBS, off by 15% in the summer, and Nickelodeon, which was flat, tied for fourth overall. Counting off the rest of the top 10, TNT dropped by 6%, A&E slipped by 7%, Discovery was flat and ESPN went down by 9%.

Tim Brooks, senior VP of Lifetime, said cable as a category was up 7.8% in the ratings for August while the six broadcast networks fell by slightly over 8%. “In the last two summers, the networks put on powerhouse shows such as ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ and ‘Survivor,’ which cut into cable’s lead,” Brooks said.

Reality bites

But new reality series this summer such as NBC’s “Fear Factor” and “Spy TV” didn’t chalk up big enough audiences to keep broadcast TV from falling back in the Nielsens.

Cable’s solid summer helped 11 individual networks (out of the 43 analyzed by Turner Entertainment Research) show double-digit ratings gains year to year, with eight tumbling by double digits.

While Lifetime won the summer Nielsen household sweepstakes in primetime with a 2.1 rating average in cable homes, USA and TBS finished neck and neck among adults 18-49, and TNT beat its basic-cable rivals among adults 25-54. Lifetime wound up only fourth in primetime in both demographic categories.

Among the 22 programs that scored better than a 5 rating in cable homes during the summer (May 28 through Aug. 26), 13 were Monday-night World Wrestling Federation hours on TNN: The National Network. Two of the winning shows were a “Rugrats” hourlong special, the highest-rated individual summer show (with a 7.2 rating in cable homes), followed by a half-hour episode of the series on Nickelodeon July 21. Two more Nielsen successes were Sunday-afternoon Nascar races on TNT.

“Rush Hour” on TNT ended up the highest-rated theatrical movie of the summer, third over all with a 5.9 rating in cable homes, followed by USA’s first run of “The Waterboy.” Part one of “Mists of Avalon” on July 15 was the highest-rated original movie/miniseries at a 5.6 rating, although the second part fell off the next night to only a 4.0 rating. “The MTV Movie Awards” on June 7 tied for sixth place for the summer with a 5.6 rating.

The double-digit primetime cable-network gainers this summer, in order of their overall finish, were: Lifetime (up 24%), TNN (67%,), History (13%), CNN (17%), Fox News (40%) and BET (20%), Animal Planet (20%), TV Guide Channel (20%), Game Show Network (25%), Travel Channel (33%) and Hallmark Channel (33%, formerly Odyssey Channel).

The eight networks that plunged by double digits were (also in order of their finish): USA (down 18%), TBS (15%), American Movie Classics (10%), Learning Channel (11%), MTV (11%), Sci Fi Channel (11%), Fox Family (13%) and VH1 (20%).

More TV

  • Crypt TV - The Birch -

    Facebook Signs Deal With Crypt TV for Slate of Five Horror Series

    Crypt TV, the digital studio founded by Eli Roth and Jack Davis and backed by Jason Blum, expanded its deal with Facebook, inking a content partnership to create a slate of five horror and monster-themed series exclusively for Facebook Watch. For Facebook Watch, it’s one of the first deals for a full slate of content [...]

  • Robin Givens OWN Network

    Robin Givens on OWN's 'Ambitions,' TV Roles for Black Women and #MeToo

    Robin Givens’ breakout role came in the 1986-91 sitcom “Head of the Class.” Since then, she’s established herself as one of the most prolific actresses on television. That trajectory has continued into this year, with Givens playing a slew of what she calls “badass women” in shows such as “Riverdale” and “The Fix,” including her [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Seeks to Stop Appointment of Special Prosecutor

    Jussie Smollett’s lawyers filed a motion on Friday to overturn the appointment of a special prosecutor in his hate crime hoax case, arguing the appointment would expose the “Empire” actor to double jeopardy. Smollett is seeking to reverse an order issued last month by Judge Michael Toomin, who faulted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx [...]

  • Jimmy Pitaro ESPN

    Dan Le Batard Tests ESPN's - and Jimmy Pitaro's - No-Politics Policy

    Perhaps someone didn’t get the memo. Ever since Jimmy Pitaro took the helm of ESPN in early 2018, employees at the Walt Disney-owned sports-media juggernaut were made aware of at least one thing: The new boss didn’t want sportscasters yakking it up about politics any longer. But Dan Le Batard, the popular radio and TV [...]

  • Rick Rubin Spotify Secret Genius Awards,

    Seven Things We Learned About 'Shangri-La' and Rick Rubin from Showtime's Series

    Showtime’s documentary series “Shangri-La” insists it is not a biographical documentary on uber-producer Rick Rubin, and it’s not meant as a four-hour advertisement for Rubin’s legendary Malibu studio, after which the four-part series is named … but it feels like a little bit of both those things. “Shangri-La” is primarily filmed at the studio where [...]

  • Elaine Paul - Amazon Studios

    Elaine Paul Exits as Hulu CFO to Join Amazon Studios

    Elaine Paul has departed Hulu after nearly six years as chief financial officer to join Amazon Studios as CFO/VP of finance. She started at the ecommerce company’s studio division on July 15, reporting to Dan Jedda, VP of digital, advertising and corporate development finance for Amazon, a company rep said. Paul’s move to Amazon, first [...]

  • Major Expansion Planned at Belfast Harbour

    Major Expansion Planned at Belfast Harbour Studios, Home of ‘Krypton’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Belfast Harbour Studios in Northern Ireland, where the Syfy series “Krypton” is shot, is set for a major expansion. The Warner Horizon-produced series has occupied the full site, which currently has two stages, since it opened in 2017. The landowners had signaled that they wanted to expand, and Variety has learned that plans for the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content