Cable Off to a Hot Start

Memorial Day Fare Finds Plenty of Viewers

Ad-supported cable networks jumped out to a fast ratings start during the first week of the summer television season.

The Memorial Day weekend proved to be a ratings boondoggle for several cable shows, including HBO’s Behind the Candelabra, which drew 2.4 million watchers for its May 25 debut. The movie, starring Michael Douglas as flamboyant music star Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, Scott Thorson, was the most-watched HBO original movie since the 2004 premiere of Something the Lord Made, which drew 2.6 million watchers, network officials said.

The May 26 Animal Planet special Mermaids: The New Evidence garnered a network record 3.6 million viewers, topping the 2.8 million viewers garnered by a 2005 special Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real, according to network officials.

On Memorial Day, A&E’s sophomore series Longmire drew 4.3 million viewers, a 5% increase from the show’s 4.1 million viewers last June — an A&E record for a freshman series premiere. The Glades also posted strong ratings on the holiday, averaging 3.3 million viewers in its fourth season premiere — up 6% over its season-three debut, A&E said.

VH1’s new scripted hoops and cheerleading drama series Hit the Floor drew 1.5 million viewers in its Memorial Day premiere while topping all shows in its 9 p.m. timeslot among women 18 to 34 and women 18 to 49, said the network.

The cable ratings beat extended into the week as OWN’s first scripted series produced by Tyler Perry, The Haves and the Have Nots, garnered a network record 1.77 million viewers in its debut last Tuesday (May 28).

The series was the first of two Perry-produced scripted programs debuting on OWN last week — the May 29 premiere of Love Thy Neighbor drew 1.6 million viewers.