News

Cable Ratings Stay Hot in January

1/24/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

The cold, wintery start to 2011 has heated up cable ratings, with a number of new and returning series and live sports events posting record viewership numbers through the first half of January.

Overall, basic-cable networks are averaging
a 52 household share from Jan.
3 to Jan. 16, an increase of four points
compared to the same period last year,
according to Nielsen. Cable networks
also posted similar share increases
among total viewers (44 share versus a
40 share in 2010) and adults 18 to 49 (42
share vs. 38).

In comparison, the broadcast networks
are averaging a 36 household share thus
far in January, down 5 points from a 41
share in 2010, according to Nielsen.

The rash of cold and snowy weather that has gripped
most of the country through the first half of January has
contributed to cable’s ratings boost, according to TV historian
Tim Brooks.

“I’m sure the networks will say it’s their shows, but the
weather does have an effect on ratings,” he said. “How
much effect is debatable, but the appeal of the shows also
has a lot to do with keeping people inside.”

A number of cable newbies and veteran shows have
premiered to big audiences, as viewers avoided the cold
and tuned in their TVs.

The Jan. 17 premiere of MTV’s scripted drama Skins
drew an audience of 3.26 million viewers, with 2.7 million
in its core 12-to-34 demo, MTV said. The series,
based on the popular U.K. series of the same name, drew
a network series premiere record 3.2 rating among the
network’s core 12-to-34 demo, according to MTV.

Skins benefited from its lead-in, a special episode of
popular series Jersey Shore, which drew an eye-popping
7.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Through three
episodes since its Jan. 6 premiere, the reality series is averaging
a whopping 8.2 million viewers, including a MTV
record 8.6 million viewers garnered during the show’s
Jan. 13 telecast.

The episode of Skins set for tonight (Jan. 24) won’t have
Jersey Shore as its lead-in, nor will it have one of its key
advertisers. Taco Bell last week pulled its ads from the
show, which follows a group of teens and their activities
involving sex and drugs. Advocacy group Parents Television
Council last week called for an advertiser boycott
and a federal investigation of the series for potential
violation of laws meant to protect minors from
exploitation.

OTHER RATINGS WINNERS INCLUDED:

• Syfy’s supernatural series Being Human, which
was up 1.9 million viewers, becoming the most
watched winter series launch for the network
since 2005. Th e series drew 1 million adults 18
to 49, including 582,000 female viewers — the
highest percentage of women watchers ever for
a Syfy original scripted series telecast, said the
network.

• TV Land drew nearly 3 million viewers for the
Jan. 20 return of Betty White vehicle Hot in
Cleveland
, while the network’s newest sitcom,
Retired at 35, drew more than 2 million viewers,
according to the network.

• Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana drew 6.2
million for the series’ final episode on Sept. 16.
The fourth and final season of the tween-targeted
series, starring Miley Cyrus as the teen
music pop star Hannah Montana, averaged a
series-record 5.7 million viewers, according to
Disney.

The latest cable-network ratings performances come
on the heels of ESPN’s coverage of the Jan. 10 collegefootball
BCS Championship Game, which garnered a
cable-record 27.3 million viewers; and BET’s Jan. 11 premiere
of The Game, which set a basic-cable record for a
scripted series debut with 7.7 million viewers.

March