×

‘Suits,’ ‘WWE Raw’ Help USA Lead Cable Network Ratings

A&E, AMC, FX and History also shine in quarter; TBS leads in younger adults

It didn’t feature any dynastic ducks, big bangs or ravenous zombies, but USA emerged the most popular cable network in primetime for the first quarter.

In a three-month period that saw AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” History miniseries “The Bible” and reality shows on several networks make a lot of noise, USA stuck to its knitting to win the first quarter for an eighth straight year. The net’s drama lineup, led by “Suits,” and three-hour weekly wrestling dynamo” “WWE Raw” paved the way.

According to most current Nielsen averages for Dec. 31, 2012 through March 31 of this year, the NBCU-owned USA  averaged 3.07 million viewers in primetime, on par with last year and comfortably ahead of History (2.61 million, up 12%), kids fave Disney Channel (2.58 million, up 4%) and TBS (2.18 million, flat).

This was the most-watched quarter yet for History, which saw big ratings for “The Bible,” a good start for scripted drama “The Vikings” and more hot numbers for reality skeins “Swamp People” and “American Pickers.”

USA also finished on top in its target demo of adults 25-54 (1.19 million), up slightly year to year, and was followed by TBS (1.17 million, flat), History (1.13 million, down 4%) and ESPN (941,000, down 9%).

Turner’s TBS, which is getting tons of mileage out of “The Big Bang Theory” repeats, won the quarter among adults 18-49 (1.19 million, down 3%), followed by USA (1.11 million, down 1%), History (0.97 million, down 7%) and ESPN (0.95 million, down 11%).

Among the quarter’s top networks in adults 18-49, those with double-digit percentage gains were No. 5 FX (913,000, up 16%), No. 8 AMC (765,000, up 35%) and No. 10 Adult Swim (754,000, up 15%). No. 9 Discovery was up by 5% to 760,000 and also had its best quarter ever in key male demos.

A&E was basically flat vs. last year, remaining in the top 10 for the quarter in total viewers as well as adults 18-49 and 25-54. The net’s Wednesday night blockbuster “Duck Dynasty” accounted for eight of the quarter’s top 16 telecasts in adults 18-49, with AMC’s “The Walking Dead” accounting for the others. It also did pretty well with new drama “Bates Motel.”

Among the notable nets having a rough quarter was MTV, which fell more than 20% in key categories and falling from eighth to 13th in the 18-49 rankings.

Also of note, Bravo was up slightly across the board, cracking the top 10 in adults 25-54; Animal Planet had its best-ever first quarter in all key demos; OWN was up a bit in total viewers (349,000) and off by the same amount in adults 18-49 (136,000);and lower down the rankings but on the rise was Velocity, which had its best quarter ever in male demos — moving ahead of the established likes of G4, NFL Network and the Weather Channel in men 25-54.

Fox News Channel remained well in front among the cable newsies in total viewers with 1.73 million in primetime (down 9% from last year) — more than the combined totals of MSNBC (755,000, down 8%) and CNN (590,000, down 22%). HLN, meanwhile, was the only news gainer, up 12% to 435,000.

This was Fox’s 45th straight quarter as the top-rated cable news network, and its “O’Reilly Factor” was again the top program (2.87 million viewers).

While FNC cruised in total viewers, the race was much tighter in adults 25-54 as the net was down 34% from last year to 279,000. MSNBC, meanwhile, dipped by 4% to 225,000. Third-place CNN (174,000, down 31%) joined FNC in posting big declines, while HLN was up 32% to 155,000.

More TV

  • William Bogert Dead: 'Small Wonder' Actor

    William Bogert, Who Appeared in 'War Games,' 'Small Wonder,' Dies at 83

    TV, film and theater actor William Bogert, who appeared in a recurring role on 1980s sitcom “Small Wonder” and in films such as “War Games,” died Jan. 12 in New York. He was 83. On “Small Wonder,” which ran from 1985 to 1989, Bogert played Brandon Brindle, the Lawsons’ neighbor and Harriet’s father who became [...]

  • Editorial Use OnlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    TV Ratings: NFL's AFC, NFC Championship Games Down From 2019

    The NFL’s AFC and NFC championship games made for a blockbuster Sunday of football for CBS and Fox, but viewership of the games that determine the contenders for the Super Bowl was down from 2019 levels. CBS’ AFC championship in the 3 p.m. ET afternoon slot delivered 41.1 million viewers as the Kansas City Chiefs [...]

  • Medici TV Show

    Vuulr Online Rights Market Makes Global Expansion at NATPE

    Singapore-based Vuulr, an online content marketplace for film and TV rights, is expanding from regional to global operations. The move was announced ahead of NATPE, one of the oldest face-to-face TV rights markets, this week launching its tenth edition in Miami, Florida (Jan 21-23). The Vuulr platform is free to use for buyers and for [...]

  • What to Watch on TV This

    What to Watch on TV This Week: ‘Picard' Premieres and 'Shrill' Returns

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Star Trek: Picard” beams into existence on CBS All Access and “Shrill” returns [...]

  • SAG Awards 2020: What You Didn't

    SAG Awards 2020: From Charlize Theron to 'Parasite,' What You Didn't See on TV

    Brad Pitt made a crack about his marriages. Robert De Niro got political. And Jennifer Aniston talked about appearing in a commercial for Bob’s Big Boy. Those were just some of thing that happened on stage at the SAG Awards that were broadcast on TNT/TBS on Sunday night. However, Variety was inside the Shrine Auditorium [...]

  • Edges Unknown

    TCB, Cineflix, All3Media Announce Sales Ahead of NATPE Miami

    Miami’s NATPE market kicks off on Tuesday, but deal announcements are already landing. London-based TCB Media Rights has sold 130 hours of content to Latin America, Cineflix and National Geographic Latin America closed a deal for four titles, and Discovery Latin America picked up popular makeover format “10 Years Younger” from All3Media. TCB’s 130 Hours [...]

  • U.K. Broadcaster Channel 5 Readies Thomas

    U.K. Broadcaster Channel 5 Readies Thomas Markle Documentary

    ViacomCBS-backed U.K. broadcaster Channel 5 will air a 90-minute documentary on Meghan Markle’s father Thomas Markle. Markle and her husband Prince Harry sparked a global media frenzy earlier this month with their decision not to continue as senior members of the British Royal Family. Buckingham Palace announced that the couple are to lose their royal [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content