×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

USA Network tops in quarter as many cablers slip

NFL dominates list while 'Crimes' is most-watched new show

The return of pro football dominated the list of top cable programs in the third quarter, while USA Network was No. 1 in total viewers and key demos.

And on a total-day basis, Disney Channel can claim its first-ever quarterly triumph over all other cable channels in total viewers, averaging 1.8 million viewers.

With a handful of original dramas back and WWE fare drawing a large male aud, USA has long been a strong summer performer. This now marks the seventh year in a row that the NBCUniversal cabler has won the third quarter.

USA averaged 3.2 million total viewers in primetime and 1.2 million in the 18-49 demo. Those figures were down 15% and 18%, however, from a year ago, as net was hurt by the ratings weakness of high-profile miniseries “Political Animals.”

In fact, eight of the top 10 networks were down in the demo. Adult Swim was flat and only TBS was up, a hefty 36%.

TBS, which was second in the 18-49 and 18-34 demos behind USA, continues to see favorable results from its syndie acquisition of “The Big Bang Theory.” New comedies “Sullivan & Son” and “Men at Work” also helped propel the Turner net. TBS saw big bumps in total viewers (1.7 million, up 45%) and adults 25-54 (just over 1 million; up 56%).

Other entertainment cablers who saw double-digit increases in total viewers were VH1 (768,000), Animal Planet (699,000), Discovery ID, (678,000), GSN (377,000) and OWN (304,000), which is recording viewer traction with “Oprah’s Next Chapter” and new series “Iyanla: Fix My Life.”

Those same nets saw substantial increases in the other key demos as well.

The quarter saw more losers than winners, however. There were many cablers down double digits in total viewers, including ESPN (1.4 million total viewers), Syfy (1.3 million), ABC Family (1.2 million), Nick at Night (948,000), MTV (863,000), Spike (806,000), Comedy Central (764,000) and TV Land (756,000).

The most-watched cable program of the third quarter was the “Monday Night Football” game between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons. Wanting to see Peyton Manning return to a new team after an injury-plagued season, 15.5 million fans tuned in to ESPN on Sept. 17.

Four of the top eight programs were NFL games: the opening night “MNF” doubleheader — Cincinnati-Baltimore and San Diego-Oakland — were second and third, respectively, while the NFL Network’s Bears-Packers game was eighth. (That game would draw a much higher number if played today since Time Warner Cable was not carrying NFL Network on Sept. 13, but signed up with the league-owned cabler last week.)

In the top 10, TNT dramas dominated the non-football list. The series finale of “The Closer” was No. 2, garnering 11.2 million viewers while the debut of spinoff “Major Crimes,” which immediately followed “The Closer” on Aug. 13, drew 9.4 million.

In the 18-49 demo, the top programs after football were kudocasts the “BET Awards Show” and MTV’s “Video Music Awards.” FX made a strong impact with two episodes of Charlie Sheen comedy “Anger Management” and the season premiere of “Sons of Anarchy.”

In addition to “Major Crimes,” other new shows that fared well in the quarter were TNT’s “Perception” and “Dallas,” A&E’s “Longmire” and VH1 reality skein “Love and Hip Hop in Atlanta.”

For the newsies, all of which are getting plenty of attention because of the upcoming presidential election, MSNBC is up 10% in total viewers (869,000) while Fox News rose 4% and still dominates (1.9 million). CNN, which continues to struggle, was off 8% (617,000).

In the 25-54 demo, which is most important to newsies, MSNBC was the only cabler to see a year-to-year increase. The net was up 10% (280,000) while Fox News was down 13% (378,000). CNN fell 14% (189,000).

For the kid cablers, Disney Channel leads in kids 2-11 and 6-11 in total programming day in addition to its victory in overall total viewers. It’s down slightly while Nickelodeon continues to see a major falloff, dropping more than 20% in key demos. Cartoon Network was flat.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Elite Season 2

    San Sebastian: Spain’s SVOD Players Debate Competition, Brand, Talent

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Executives from HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Movistar+ and “Elite” co-creator Darío Madrona took to the stage to field questions on the Global Impact of Spanish Series. Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.Spain First “La Casa de Papel” was watched by 34,355,956 Netflix accounts over its first seven days,  after a July 19 [...]

  • Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers

    Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers From Skipping Fox Ad Breaks

    Fox is hoping to knit together the seconds-long divide between a TV program and the commercials that support it. During ad breaks for a few football broadcasts, tomorrow’s run of the Emmys and Wednesday’s season premiere of “The Masked Singer,” the network will kick off ad sessions with special show promos that display artistic renderings [...]

  • Patria

    HBO Europe Unveils ‘Patria’ Footage to Captive San Sebastian Audience

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Amid large expectation, HBO Europe has revealed first footage giving a first sense of tone and pace of its Spanish original series “Patria.” A packed-to-overflowing press conference on Saturday morning at the San Sebastian Festival can be read as one sign of the potential popularity of the eight-part series. The panel sneak-peek [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content