Revving Up 'Wanted’ Viewers


Turner Network Television has evidently gone two for two in its return to the scripted-series arena, with its Sunday-night cop drama Wanted posting solid early ratings performances.

Wanted, which follows a group of elite law officers who track down the most wanted criminals, has averaged a 2.6 household rating since its July 31 debut, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

The show’s performance follows on the heels of TNT’s successful June launch of the Kyra Sedgwick drama The Closer. Through eight premiere episodes, the skein, which has already been renewed for a second season, averaged a 4.4 household rating — including a basic-cable record 5.9 with its June 13 bow.

TNT and TBS executive vice president and chief operating officer Steve Koonin said Wanted’s success is due in part to piggybacking on the network’s NASCAR coverage. He added that the TV-MA-rated show’s gritty, fast-paced premise is tailored to appeal to the stock-car racing fan.

“NASCAR and Wanted have a lot of the same elements of drama: the danger, the speed and adrenaline,” Koonin said. “By pairing them together and using the huge NASCAR audiences to promote Wanted, we believe we’ll have great success.”

TNT’s two scripted series, as well as the Steven Spielberg-executive-produced miniseries Into The West, also helped TNT dominate the primetime ratings race in July.

The service topped all basic-cable networks in primetime with a 2.2 household average — an increase of 5% over the same period last year — outdistancing the 1.9 rating achieved by both Disney Channel (up 6%) and USA Network (down 14%), according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

“Earlier in the year, our success was [National Basketball Association] games and Law & Order,” Koonin said. “Now, our success is through original series.”

Tied at fourth for the month were Fox News Channel (up 31%), Nick at Nite (up 21%) and Lifetime Television (up 13%), all with a 1.7. Rounding out the top 10 were TBS (flat) and Cartoon Network (down 7%) — which both registered a 1.4 mark — Spike TV (1.3, up 63%) and Turner South, with a 1.2 (down 20%).

AMC, on the strength of its acquired movies, scored a 25% ratings boost in July to a 1.0 average, while TV Land and BET (0.9, up 29%) and ESPN2 (0.5, up 25%) also experienced notable gains last month.

FX’s aggressive schedule of scripted and reality series like Rescue Me, 30 Days and Over There couldn’t keep the network’s July ratings from tumbling 9% to a 1.0 household average. The network’s Iraq War-centric Over There series fired a strong initial salvo with a 3.2 mark for its July 27 premiere, before sustaining a 34% drop in its second week to a 2.1.

ESPN (1.0, down 17%), HGTV and Discovery Channel (0.8, down 11%), TLC (0.6, down 25%), GSN (0.4, down 20% and Bravo (0.4, down 33%) also suffered erosion during the month.

Nickelodeon continued its hold on the total-day crown for the month garnering a 1.9 rating, flat against last year. Still, Nick easily bested sister service and channel mate Nick at Nite (1.6, up 33%). Tied at a 1.3 were Disney Channel (up 18%) and Cartoon Network (flat). Cartoon’s late-night spinoff, Adult Swim, and TNT were next, each with a 1.2.

Cable continued to scorch the broadcast networks on the viewership share front in July.

Ad-supported cable networks averaged a 61.4 primetime share for the period of June 27 to July 31, increasing their mark by 3% over last year’s 59.1 share. The industry almost doubled the seven broadcast networks, which averaged a collective 31.4 share for the period, down 6% from their 33.6 mark in July 2004.