Basic cable scored record primetime-viewership gains in
January, with its ratings jumping by 10 percent, while erosion at the six broadcast
networks slowed to a dip of just 1 percent, according to Nielsen Media Research data.
In primetime, cable earned a 25.4 rating, compared with 23
a year ago, according to Nielsen data supplied by Turner Entertainment Research. The six
broadcasters were down to a 40.8 primetime rating from a 41.3.
Cable's audience delivery in January climbed by 2.7
million homes to 25.2 million, up 12 percent versus a year ago -- a record, according to
the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau.
Among individual cable networks, Turner Network Television
and USA Network -- both boosted by wrestling -- tied for No. 1 in primetime with 2.6
ratings in January. TNT -- which also got a ratings lift from the high numbers of its
original movie, Purgatory --was up 18 percent, while USA climbed 4 percent.
Purgatory was the No. 1-rated cable program during the
month, with a 6.6 rating Jan. 10.
Nickelodeon ranked No. 3 in primetime in January with a
2.0, the same as a year ago. It was followed by Lifetime Television with a 1.9, up 6
percent; and TBS Superstation with a 1.8, down 14 percent.
The biggest ratings gainers for January included: Fox News
Channel, up 100 percent to a 0.6; The Weather Channel, up 67 percent to a 0.5; ESPN, up 25
percent to a 1.5; and A&E Network, up 23 percent to a 1.6.
Fox Family Channel, with its new format, dropped 40 percent
in primetime, to a 0.8 from 1.1. In total-day ratings, Fox Family slid 33 percent, to a
0.4 from 0.6.
January's total-day-ratings winner was Nick, which, at
a 1.6, was down 6 percent from 1.7 in January 1998.