USA ranks first in second quarter

Indy, 'In Plain Sight' yield ratings victory

Vince McMahon’s wrestlers, the first Indiana Jones movie and rookie hit series “In Plain Sight” have helped to drive the USA Network to a comfortable No. 1 for the second quarter.

That No. 1 covers both primetime cable viewers and USA’s target adult demos (25 to 54 and 18 to 49). It’s the network’s second quarterly win in a row, and fifth of the past six; USA averaged more than 2.7 million viewers for the period, up 6% from a year ago. TNT, with 2.43 million viewers, was the only other ad-supported cable network to average more than 2 million primetime viewers for the quarter, inching up by 1% from the same period in 2007.

Led by USA and TNT, basic cable as a category climbed by 7% in households during the second quarter while the combination of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC ended up dropping by 3%. In the 18-to-49 primetime demo, the contrast was even greater: Basic cable shot up by 10% and the four broadcast nets averaged a decline of 7%.

TNT rode to its strong second-quarter numbers on the back of NBA-playoff basketball: Three of the four highest-rated individual programs for the period were NBA games featuring either the Los Angeles Lakers or the San Antonio Spurs, or both. A “SpongeBob SquarePants” half-hour on Nickelodeon on April 11 finished third overall. (The Disney Channel’s “Camp Rock” TV movie beat everything during the quarter with 8.86 million viewers, but the industry positions Disney Channel as non-ad-supported, giving it an advantage over its commercial-clogged rivals.)

The highest-rated movie for the quarter was Lifetime’s “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter,” which came in eighth over all, chalking up 6.2 million viewers.

Below USA and TNT, three networks were bunched tightly from third to fifth, each with just over 1.7 million viewers: TBS (up 10% from the second quarter of 2007), ESPN (up 22%) and Nick at Nite (up 33%).

Among the remaining networks averaging at least 500,000 primetime viewers, the following skyrocketed by double digits in the second quarter, in order of their over-all finish: Spike (seventh place, up 16%), ABC Family (15th, up 16%), AMC 20th, up 10%), CNN (21st, up 26%) and Food Network (23rd, up 12%).

Also, MSNBC (27th, up 45%), Bravo (28th, up 23%), E! Entertainment TV (31st, up 16%) and Lifetime Movie Network (32nd, up 41%).

Only two networks averaging more than 500,000 slipped by double digits in the second quarter: The 24th place TLC, which dropped by 10%, and 30th place BET, which stumbled by 14%.

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