News

Lifetime Viewers Didn't 'Miss' New Series

8/10/2003 8:00 PM Eastern

Another blockbuster original series premiere and another record-setting week for cable viewership.

Lifetime Television's Aug. 2 debut of crime drama 1-800-Missing
was the most-watched series premiere ever for the female-targeted network, averaging a 3.1 household rating and reaching 3.3 million total viewers.

The combined performance of programming from Lifetime and other basic-cable networks helped the industry generate an all-time audience share for the week of July 28 to Aug. 3.

Lifetime's 1-800-Missing, starring Gloria Ruben (ER) as a cop who teams with a psychic to find missing people, matched the network's Jan. 7, 2001 premiere of The Division, which also pulled a 3.1.

Wild Card, the other Lifetime scripted drama series to bow last Saturday, garnered a 2.7 rating in the 9 p.m. time slot preceding Missing.

The two shows anchored Lifetime's attempts to create a second night of original programming, following the success it has enjoyed on Sundays over the years with such series as Strong Medicine, The Division
and Any Day Now.

Lifetime Entertainment Services executive vice president of research Tim Brooks said the shows outperformed expectations during a night that has traditionally been light on viewing.

"We think this is something that can serve us well over the long-term," he said.

The shows, along with a July 28 Designing Women
reunion show, also helped Lifetime finish in second place in the weekly primetime household ratings race with a 2.1, behind USA Network's 2.2 mark, according to ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

Ad-supported networks garnered a record 56.6 audience share during the week, up 3 points from the same period last year, according to a Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau analysis of Nielsen data. The number bested cable's previous high of a 55.6 share generated last month.

Meanwhile, the seven broadcast networks' aggregate share fell 4 points to a 35.6 during the week.

Ad-supported cable's ratings average for the week shot up nearly 6% to a 30.7, according to the CAB, boosted by continued strong rating performances by a host of new original series: USA Network's Peacemakers
(4.0 rating) and Monk
(3.6); FX's Nip/Tuck
(3.0); and Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
(2.5).

Momentum appeared to remain on cable's side last week as the Aug. 5 episodes of Nip/Tuck
and Queer Eye
averaged a 3.0 and a 2.4, respectively.

Bravo parent NBC will seek to steal some of cable's thunder by running a one-hour episode of Queer Eye
Aug. 14. Three weeks ago, the broadcaster ran an abbreviated version of the series, in which the "fab five" gay stars provide household and fashion makeover tips to straight men.

The network will air the show despite continued concerns from several NBC affiliates. Several stations either refused to air NBC's July 17 Queer Eye episode or ran the show during the early morning hours due to content concerns and opposition to repurposed cable programming.

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