TNT best in 18-49 demo in second quarter

USA tops in total viewers, 'Hatfields' huge for History

Fueled by NBA basketball and helped by a “Dallas” reboot as well as strong returns for existing series, TNT was best in the 18-49 demo among all cablers in the second quarter of 2012.

In Nielsen research data recorded through June 17, the Turner cabler was down 14% from a year ago, but its average aud of 1.2 million in the demo was good enough to lead all competitors. Second was ESPN, which was up 30% because of especially strong NBA playoffs. The two nets held the same order in the 18-34 demo as well.

The only other double-digit increase among the top 10 nets in the 18-49 demo was TBS. The comedy-branded net continues to see across-the-board improvements since acquiring “The Big Bang Theory” as a syndie pickup.

Other channels to see double-digit improvements in the demo included Investigation Discovery (up 30%), VH1 (25%), Food Network (16%) and Lifetime (10%).

On the down side, those taking it on the chin were MTV (-22%), Disney Channel (-21%), USA Network (-14%), Spike (-14%) and Discovery (-12%).

In the race for total viewers, USA Network was No. 1 for the sixth consecutive year. Profitable NBCUniversal-owned cabler, however, was down 11% from a year ago and narrowly stayed ahead of a surging History, which was up 13% thanks to the wildly successful three-part “Hatfields & McCoys” miniseries and a slew of reality shows that continue to perform well. TNT was third, just behind History.

Besides History, TBS (up 35%) and ESPN (22%), some other double-digit gainers in total viewers in the cable universe were Food, Animal Planet, VH1, Lifetime Movie Network and National Geographic Channel.

Double-digit losers for total viewers included Nick at Nite (-44%), MTV (-18%), ABC Family (-14%) Comedy Central (-13%), Disney Channel (-12%) and TNT (-11%).

In looking at individual series, History dominated with three of the top four slots. “Pawn Stars” ranks No. 1 with 6.3 million viewers, while “American Pickers” was third at 4.9 million and “Swamp People” fourth at 4.8 million. USA had three of the top 10 shows — “In Plain Sight,” “Psych” and “Royal Pains — while TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles” and “Falling Skies” also made the list.

In the 18-49 demo, “Pawn Stars” was best again, but Comedy Central landed the second and third positions with “Tosh.0” and “South Park.” In adding to its impressive accomplishments, “Pawn Stars” was also tops in the 25-54 demo.

Among new series that debuted in the second quarter, the “Dallas” preem dominated in total viewers (6.9 million) as well as being No. 1 in the 18-49 and 25-54 demos.

As for the top programs, the third part of “Hatfields & McCoys” was the most-watched show. The last episode of the project the examined the warring families drew 17.9 million viewers. Episodes one and two of the mini ranked just behind.

The dominance was unusual in that sporting events are usually the most-watched shows of any quarter, but “Hatfields” beat out game seven of the Boston Celtics-Miami Heat match-up on ESPN, which drew 13.3 million viewers. In the 18-49 demo, the game, however, narrowly defeated the History mini.

Among the news cablers, CNN continues to hemorrhage viewers amid reports of a major exec shuffle to come to Atlanta. CNN is averaging 443,000 viewers in primetime (down 36%) and off 43% in 25-54, the most important demo to the newsies.

Fox News (1.7 million) continues to dominate among MSNBC (680,000) and CNN in total viewers, though it was down 3%. MSNBC was off 13%. In the 25-54 demo, both Fox News and MSNBC suffered double-digit losses, down 16% and 17%, respectively.

Among the kid cablers, Nickelodeon continues to see major viewer erosion. Throughout the entire programming day, Nick is best in kids 2-11 (922,000), but down 27%, while second-place Disney (880,000) is off 6%. Third-place Cartoon Network (608,000) is up 7%.

In kids 6-11, Disney is best at 571,000 but down 7% from a year ago. Nick, at 487,000, is off a whopping 29%.