USA remains top in third quarter, sets record

History, FX and Syfy show improvement from year ago

USA Network entered the Nielsen record books by drawing the most viewers ever for a cabler in the third quarter. But it wasn’t the only net to post big gains in the frame.

With strong showings by its dramas, including vets “Royal Pains” and “Burn Notice” and newcomers “Necessary Roughness” and “Suits,” USA took the top spot in total viewers (3.5 million), as well as the 18-49 and 25-54 demos.

Among nets in the top 10 for viewers in primetime, History (2.1 mil, up 19%), FX (1.5 mil, up 14%) and Syfy (1.4 mil, 12%) saw double-digit increases from the year-ago quarter. History’s “Pawn Stars” continues to deliver, as does “Sons of Anarchy” for FX. Syfy had traction with “Warehouse 13” and “Alphas.” In 18-49, A&E saw a 14% bump thanks to “Storage Wars.”

Among 18-34 viewers, MTV was tops (679,000). “MTV Video Music Awards” attracted 13.4 million total viewers, which was second-best in the quarter behind the Sept. 12 ESPN NFL game between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins (14.5 million).

MTV also continued to rake in viewer for the fourth season of “Jersey Shore.”

The most-watched scripted program of the quarter — and the only one in the top 10 — was Disney Channel’s Aug. 5 presentation of the “Phineas and Ferb Movie.” Pic garnered a total aud of 10.6 million.

TNT, which was down slightly in all categories including a 2% decline to 2.5 million viewers, still saw solid deliveries from “Rizzoli & Isles,” as well as “The Closer.” Among new programs, “Falling Skies” was a consistent performer.

Two of the biggest winners of the third quarter were HLN (674,000) and CNN (679,000), both of which focused heavily on the Casey Anthony trial.

HLN, propelled by “Nancy Grace” and her constant focus on the case, saw a whopping 67% improvement while CNN was 32% higher. Both, however, fell far short in total viewers to Fox News (1.9 mil).

Among the double-digit losers for the quarter in total viewers: Nick at Night (-27%), TBS (-20%) and Bravo (-16%).

On the tyke side, Disney XD and Nick Jr. saw a nice bump for the 2-11 demo. Second to the “Phineas and Ferb Movie,” Nickelodeon’s “A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!” was a big attraction for kids as well.