Basics Sweep Up Double-Digit Gains

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It may be a sweeps month for broadcasters, but that hasn't stopped basic cable from racking up double-digit viewership gains in primetime.

Basic cable registered a 14.7 percent advance in collective household ratings, to a 27.3 average during the week of May 6 to May 12. according to a Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. That compares with a 23.8 average in the comparable-period in 2001.

The medium also scored a 12.9 percent increase in share to a 46.3 last week, while delivery grew 18.2 percent to some 28.8 million households.

As for the broadcasters, the CAB analysis indicated that the weighted gross average for the seven networks decreased 4.7 percent in primetime to a 29.3 last week, from a 30.7 in the second week of the May sweeps a year ago.

The broadcasters' share receded by 6.1 percent, to 49.4, while delivery dipped 1.6 percent, to 30.9 million households.

Last week, NBC, UPN and The WB posted primetime ratings gains, while the other four broadcast networks sustained erosion.

ABC's fall was the most precipitous — it dropped 22.1 percent, to a 6.0 household average.

Basic cable built on its performance during the first week of the May sweeps period. Between April 29 and May 5, basic networks posted a 12.9 percent rise in their primetime household ratings, to a 27.1 average from a 24.0 the prior year.

That translated into an 11.3 percent share improvement, to a 45.2, and a 16.7-percent gain in delivery, to an average of 28.6 million households.

TNT TOPS PRIMETIME

Individually, Turner Network Television was the top-performing basic-cable network in primetime. Benefiting from its coverage of the National Basketball Association playoffs, TNT scored a rare four-pointer in the Nielsen standings last week.

The general-entertainment network was first in household ratings and No. 1 among adults 18 to 34, adults 18 to 49 and adults 25 to 54, according to a Turner Entertainment Research analysis of Nielsen data.

Lifted by the 4.1 household rating dunked by the Los Angeles Lakers-San Antonio Spurs game on May 10 and the 3.4 garnered by the Sacramento Kings-Dallas Mavericks contest on May 6, TNT averaged a 2.1 household rating for the week, beating Lifetime Television and Nickelodeon, which both earned a 1.9.

TBS Superstation — buoyed by a 3.4 rating from Lakers-Spurs on May 7 and a 3.8 for the broadcast- window premiere of theatrical Deep Blue Sea
on May 12 — knotted sister channel Cartoon Network for third, with a 1.7 average.

USA Network was next with a 1.4. Five other networks tied with a 1.0 rating within their respective universes: A&E Network, ESPN, MTV, Discovery Channel and Fox News Channel.

NICK WINS TOTAL DAY

On a total-day basis, Nickelodeon led Lifetime and Cartoon by a 0.5-point margin, with a 1.6 average. TBS and TNT were tied for third with a 1.0 average, gauged on a 24-hour basis.

The aforementioned NBA games, plus the Kings-Mavericks match on May 9, also helped TNT to finish first among the key adult demo groups. The network averaged 637,000 18-to-34 watchers last week, according to the Turner analysis, beating MTV (545,000) and TBS (423,000).

Among adults 18 to 49 and the older group, TNT and TBS were first and second. TNT notched 1.36 million and 1.30 million viewers within the respective sets last week, while TBS averaged 926,000 and 982,000 of those watchers. Lifetime was third in both cases, with 756,000 adults 18 to 49 and 898,000 viewers aged 25 to 54.

MTV's
The Osbournes
was the No. 1 show for the week, with a 5.6 household rating on May 7, ahead of TNN's coverage of World Wrestling Entertainment fare on May 6, which pinned a 4.8 average for the second hour and a 4.2 from 9 to 10 p.m.

The May 7 installment of The Real World XI
tied the May 10 Lakers-Spurs match with a 4.1.

Closing out the top 10: Nick's SpongeBob SquarePants
episodes on May 12 at 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., both of which averaged a 3.3 household rating.

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