Lifetime Television continued its winning ways in primetime throughout the first quarter, as the women's-targeted channel donned the household-ratings diadem by beating its nearest competitors by half a point.
Lifetime, which ranked first for all 13 weeks of the period, averaged a 2.2 household rating in the first quarter — a 10 percent gain from its 2.0 in the same quarter a year ago.
The women's network, which notched the highest quarterly ratings mark in its history, claimed its consecutive winning-week streak marked the first time a network had accomplished that feat since USA Network took all 13 weeks of first-quarter 2000.
Lifetime also said its 0.5-point margin is the greatest since USA — fueled by wrestling — scored such an advantage during the aforementioned span.
"It's flashback time," said Lifetime senior vice president of research Tim Brooks, who previously was a longtime executive with USA.
SERIES HOLD THEIR OWN
Brooks noted that Lifetime's Sunday-night block of original dramas —The Division, Any Day Now
and Strong Medicine —
continued to perform well in the first quarter, even against the Winter Olympics.
and The Division
were tied with a 2.6 rating, while Any Day Now
averaged a 2.3. Lifetime's anti-violence-themed Sunday, Feb. 17 — part of its "Stop Violence Against Women" effort — posted a 3.3 rating to rank as the network's highest-rated Sunday in six years. And Video Voyeur: The Susan Wilson Story
, the Jan. 21 original movie, rated a whopping 5.1
Turner Network Television and Nickelodeon (up 6 percent apiece), and USA Network (down 11 percent) were tied for second place in primetime, averaging a 1.7 during the first quarter, according to a Turner Entertainment Research analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.
TBS Superstation (down 16 percent) and Cartoon Network (down 6 percent) were next, each averaging a 1.6 in primetime.
TNT benefited from growing ratings for Law & Order, which was
up 20 percent for the quarter from a year ago. Also driving the network's ratings growth was its strategy of airing movies on the weekends, starting on Friday nights, according to Turner Entertainment Research senior vice president Jon Marks.
"Consumers are catching on," said Marks, who noted that viewers now realize they can find a film on TNT each Friday night. The channel is then able to drive viewers to its Saturday and Sunday movies by promoting those offerings during the Friday flick.
TBS senior vice president of research Nancy Lucas attributed the network's ratings dip to its loss of wrestling. But TBS held onto its targeted, young-adult viewers, she maintained.
Rounding out the top 10 basic-cable networks in primetime were: Fox News Channel (up 33 percent) and Discovery Channel (down 8 percent), each of which registered a 1.2; A&E Network, off 21 percent to a 1.1; and ESPN (up 11 percent), TLC (flat) and TNN: The National Network (down 9 percent), all at a 1.0.
Explaining his network's double-digit downturn, A&E spokesman Gary Morgenstein said, "A number of general entertainment networks have seen their ratings dip due to the proliferation of networks."
A&E expects better news in April, when it debuts new original programming such as the miniseries Shackleton, according to the spokesman.
In the news segment, Cable News Network averaged a 0.9 for a 29 percent primetime increase from first quarter 2001. MSNBC was even for the period with a 0.4 primetime average, as was CNN Headline News at a 0.2. On the other hand, business net CNBC was off 25 percent to a 0.3.
Gauged on a total-day basis, Nickelodeon took its usual first-place perch, scoring a 1.5 average, up 7 percent from first quarter 2001, according to the Turner analysis.
Lifetime (up 8 percent) ranked second with a 1.3 average, while Cartoon took third with a 1.1 (flat), ahead of TBS, which was down 17 percent to a 1.0.
A look at the primetime adult demographics shows that USA was first among the 18-to-49 set in the first quarter, scoring a 10 percent advance by averaging 1.04 million viewers. That led both TBS, down 12 percent, and TNT, up 2 percent, which counted 1.04 million and 1 million of those watchers, respectively, on average.
Lifetime, which rose 19 percent, took the title among adults 25 to 54, averaging 1.09 million. TNT was second with nearly 1.07 million, a 5-percent increase from first quarter 2001, while USA's total edged up 1 percent to 1.06 million.
HALLMARK HIT HEIGHT
Lifetime wasn't the only network to post its highest-rated quarter ever. Hallmark Channel boasted the same achievement — it racked up a 0.6, up 50 percent from a 0.4 a year ago.
The other big ratings winners in primetime were: Food Network, up 50 percent to a 0.6; Court TV, up 33 percent to a 0.8; and ABC Family Channel, up 29 percent to a 0.9.
The big losers in primetime included: Travel Channel, down 40 percent to a 0.3; Toon Disney, down 40 percent to a 0.3; and Bravo, down 25 percent to a 0.3
Back on the 24-hour beat, USA (up 13 percent) and TNT (flat) were tied at a 0.9, besting the 0.8 recorded by A&E, which dropped 11 percent. Fox News jumped a huge 75 percent to a 0.7, edging out rival CNN, which increased 50 percent to hit a 0.6 total-day rating.
The Learning Channel (up 20 percent), FX (flat) and Discovery (down 14 percent) were tied for No. 10 in total-day with a 0.6 average, according to the Turner analysis.