Even broadcast television’s best sweeps programming
couldn’t stop cable from generating a higher share of viewers
for the month of November.
Ad-supported cable networks averaged a 58 household share during
the period of Nov. 1 to Nov. 28, up 2% from the same period last
year, according to a Turner Research analysis of Nielsen data.
Cable easily bested the 34.3 combined share of Fox, NBC, ABC and
CBS, which, collectively, were down 5% from last year. That’s despite
November being a traditional sweeps month, when the Big Four broadcasters
put forward their best programming to attract advertisers.
TV historian Tim Brooks said the cable networks, not the broadcasters,
offered unique and edgy programming alternatives during
the month, with such shows as AMC’s The Walking Dead and TLC reality
series Sarah Palin’s Alaska.
“The broadcast season this year has been kind of dull — it’s been pretty
conservative with not a lot of breakout hits,” he said. “If anything, the
risk-taking has been over on cable, so it’s not surprising that there isn’t
a lot of ratings heat coming from the broadcast networks.”
ESPN scored its third consecutive monthly primetime ratings win
during the month, averaging 3.9 million viewers, up 20% over its November
2009 performance. USA Network fell 13% in averaging 2.7
million viewers to finish second, followed by Disney Channel, whose
2.5 million average monthly viewers were up 3% year to year.
The remaining top 10 most-watched networks for the month included
Fox News Channel (2.1 million viewers, down 3%); TBS (1.8
million, up 2%); TNT (1.7 million, down 7%); Nick at Nite (1.6 million,
down 8%); History (1.5 million, up 28%); ABC Family (1.4 million, up
11%); and Cartoon Network (1.4 million, up 5%).
Nickelodeon was tops among all basic networks on a 24-hour basis,
averaging 2.3 million viewers, followed by Disney Channel (1.6
million viewers); Nick at Nite (1.5 million); ESPN (1.5 million) and
USA Network (1.3 million).