Basic Nets Thrive Into New Broadcast Season


The first week of the 2003-04 TV season was a good one for basic-cable networks — and not only because of the Emmy Awards.

Ad-supported cable delivered a 7% rise in ratings, to a 30.6 average in primetime from Sept. 15 through Sept. 21, and a 6.4% increase in share, to a 51.6, according to a Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

Basic's delivery grew 8.7%, to 33.1 million households.

The seven broadcast networks, despite launching 19 fall series, lost ground. The weighted rating for broadcasters dropped 5%, to 25.7. Their share and delivery declined as well.

The exception: CBS, lifted by the premiere of Survivor: Pearl Islands, TV's highest-rated show that week.

Back on cable, ESPN's Sunday Night Football
coverage of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins 17-7 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 21 lifted it to the top of the primetime household heap, as well as for all key adult demos.

ESPN — which posted a 9.0 household rating for the Dolphins-Bills game — averaged a 2.4 from Sept. 15 through Sept. 21, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

Disney Channel and Turner Network Television each scored a 1.9 for the week. In a three-way tie for third, USA Network, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network all posted a 1.7.

Rounding out the top 10: Lifetime Television had a 1.6; TBS Superstation had a 1.6; and Fox News Channel and TLC each had a 1.1.

Gauged on a total-day basis, Nick was in familiar territory: No. 1 for the week with a 1.4. Cartoon and Disney Channel were second with a 1.2 apiece, while Lifetime and TNT were next, each averaging a 1.1.

Linked to lead-in NFL Prime Time
(No. 2 for the week in households, with a 4.2 rating) ESPN's NFL game powered a weekly first-place finish among adults 18 to 34 (677,000 viewers on average), adults 18 to 49 (1.51 million) and adults 25 to 54 (1.59 million).

According to a Turner Entertainment Research analysis of Nielsen data, TBS Superstation was second among the younger adults with 471,000, while TNT was third with 421,000.

Among the older adult demo groups, TNT was second with 989,000 18-to-49-year-olds versus 972,000 for TBS, and had 1.05 million 25-to-54 viewers on average, compared with 970,000 for TNT.

Several familiar shows were in ad-supported cable's top 10: Spike TV's presentation of WWE's Raw, Nick's Fairly Odd Parents
and SpongeBob SquarePants, and TNT's Law & Order.

FX's Nip/Tuck
cut itself a piece of 10th place, with the Sept. 16 installment earning a 3.1.