Auds droop for safer ‘Sex’

TBS still tops all cablers in July among young adults

NEW YORK — “Sex” is losing its head of steam.

The impressive ratings harvested by basic-cable reruns of “Sex & the City” during its heavily stunted premiere week are not holding up.

Safer “Sex” is still working pretty well for TBS — which topped all cablers in July among young adults — but the honeymoon may be over.

Perhaps because of the heavy edits, the following five weeks of “Sex” reruns on TBS (which skeds four half-hours a week — two on Tuesday and two on Wednesday) showed a dropoff each week in viewership, from 4.164 million households (for the combined June 22-23) to 3.149 million for the most recent period (July 20-21), marking a 24% overall decline.

Similarly, the falloff between week two and week six was 23% in women 18-34 and 28% in women 18-49.

But Steve Koonin, exec VP and chief operating officer of TBS and TNT, said the ratings and demographics of “Sex” are “right on target” with his projections.

For the six-week period through July 25, “Sex” is the highest-rated sitcom in basic cable in the main target demo of women 18-49, averaging 935,000 — almost double the 482,000 of TBS’ second-place “Friends.”

Koonin said TBS has tweaked its promos in an effort to get more men to watch “Sex” reruns; only 33% of the audience for TBS’ “Sex” are men, compared to an average of 40% when it ran on HBO.

A TBS handicap not shared by any other cable network, he said, is the fact that Nielsen doesn’t count the Atlanta numbers because in that market TBS is a broadcast TV station.

Overall, the TBS network finished fifth in primetime in total viewers for the month (June 28-July 5), down 8% from the same period in 2003. But Koonin was quick to point out that the network wound up first in adults 18-34 and third (behind TNT and USA) in adults 18-49.

USA edged out TNT to come in first in total primetime viewers for the month, shooting up 42% from a year ago. TNT’s numbers for the month rose 15%.

In addition to USA and TNT, networks climbing by double digits for the month in primetime, in order of their ranking, are ESPN (up 36%), FX (48%), Sci Fi Channel (29%), ABC Family (48%), History Channel (17%) and HGTV (19%).

Also, Comedy Central (up 36%), Hallmark Channel (57%), BET (10%), VH1 (35%), Bravo (27%), ESPN2 (18%) and Lifetime Movie Network (32%).

Also, WGN (up 14%), GSN (28%), MSNBC (19%), Speed Channel (43%), Discovery Health (76%), Oxygen (32%), WE: Women’s Entertainment (19%), National Geographic Channel (80%) and Fuse (12%).

Cable networks down by double digits, also in order of their ranking, are Cartoon Network (down 11%), A&E (13%), Spike TV (19%), TLC (15%), E! Entertainment TV (24%), Weather Channel (21%), Outdoor Life Network (24%), and BBC America (17%).

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