Reflective of the separate ratings for the services, Nickelodeon vaulted to the top of basic cable’s primetime heap in April.
The kids’ network averaged a 2.2 household rating March 29-April 25, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data, up 29% from the corresponding period last year (March 31-April 27, 2003).
Turner Network Television was second with a 2.0 household mark despite a 5% slip from the year-earlier period. USA Network was third, growing 36% to a 1.9. Fourth place went to Nick at Nite, the sitcom purveyor that shares channel space with Nickelodeon and is at the center of a controversy among network competitors.
Beginning this month, Nielsen began ranking the services as separate entities. The measurement company put out a client clarification Monday at the request of cable programmers, including ABC Cable Networks Group and Lifetime Television, which voiced concerns about how primetime ratings are being judged, considering that Nick airs only nine hours in the traditional primetime periods while Nick at Nite runs one-dozen. Other networks are gauged on a 21-hour span.
But a Nielsen spokeswoman said Monday that under its own criteria, Nick at Nite qualifies as a network, as would any other cable service that meets the requirements set forth.
Getting back to the Nielsen box score, Disney Channel was fifth in April with a 1.6 (down 6%), while there was a three-way tie for sixth among TBS Superstation (8%), Lifetime (-18%) and Cartoon Network (-18%).
Fox News Channel, sans war coverage from Iraq like last April, sustained a 61% decline but grabbed a share of ninth place with ESPN, which was ahead 18%.
Finishing just outside the top 10 were two of the biggest gainers for the month, MTV: Music Television and The History Channel, the latter of which benefited from its airing of former Home Box Office miniseries Band of Brothers. Both registered 1.2 averages, with the former up 33% and the latter advancing at a 71% clip.