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USA, Nick Cool Off in Early Summer

7/23/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

When it comes to summer ratings,
no cable networks have
been hotter than USA Network
and Nickelodeon in recent
years.

USA, the “Characters Welcome”
network, has relied on
the strength of such popular
scripted series as Burn Notice,
Psych and Royal Pains to top
ad-supported cable’s summer
primetime ratings chart for
the last four years.

Nickelodeon, with a combination
of toddler-targeted
hits like Dora the Explorer
and tween hits like Sponge-Bob SquarePants, has been the
most-watched cable network
on a 24-hour basis each summer
since 1993.

But halfway through summer
2012, both networks are in
jeopardy of losing their summer
sizzle.

Through the first six weeks
of the summer, USA is averaging
2.8 million viewers
in primetime, down
19% from the same period
last year, and as such
has fallen to second
place behind surging
History. The network,
riding the record-setting
ratings for its May
28 to 30 miniseries Hatfields & McCoys, as well
as weekly reality series
powerhouses Pawn
Stars
and American Pickers,
has averaged 3.1 million
viewers thus far
this summer, a 35% increase
over the same period
last year.

With six weeks left
in the summer, USA
has a steep but not insurmountable
climb
to continue its summer
primetime ratings streak.

In the week of July 9, USA won its first weekly
primetime ratings race this summer based on the
strong returns of hit series Burn Notice — which
drew 4.4 million viewers in its July 12 debut — and
Royal Pains, which averaged 4.1 million viewers in
its July 11 summer-season premiere.

Nickelodeon is currently posting a 27% audience
decline in averaging 1.7 million viewers on a
total-day basis during summer 2012, behind Disney
Channel’s 1.9 million viewers, which is also down
1% compared to the same period in 2011.

Disney has thus far swept every weekly
total-day race thus far and shows no signs of
slowing down.

Cable-network executives say it’s unclear
what affect the launch of the two-week 2012
London Summer Olympics this Friday (July
27) will have on the summer ratings.

TAKEAWAY

Disney Channel and
History are seizing summer
advantage.

November