Start of a Hot Summer

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History’s record-setting miniseries
Hatfields & McCoys certainly kicked off what
looks to be a hot ratings summer for cable.

The three-part series starring Kevin Costner
and Bill Paxton blew away all estimated projections
to become the most-watched miniseries in
cable history, averaging a whopping 13.8 million
viewers on Memorial Day and the two days after.

That bodes well for the rest of the summer for
cable, which is lining up such shows as the highly
anticipated premiere of TNT’s Dallas revival
and the return of perennial summer hits such
as Burn Notice (USA Network), Pretty Little Liars
(ABC Family), Rizzoli & Isles (TNT) and Army
Wives
(Lifetime). The summer will also feature
the finale of one of cable’s most popular and highly rated series,
The Closer.

With its summer programming slate, ad-backed cable will
look to continue increasing its audience dominance over the
broadcast networks. Cable has averaged a 70% or more share
of household live-plus-seven viewing during four of the last
five summers, compared to a household share of
less than 30% for the Big Four broadcast networks.

The one year those results were altered was in
2008, when broadcasters — on the strength of
NBC’s 2008 Olympics coverage from Beijing —
drew a 31% share while pulling cable’s share down
to 69%. Cable faces with the same challenge this
summer with NBC’s July 27-Aug. 12 coverage of the
2012 Olympics from London.

The Peacock Network will broadcast 272 hours
of coverage from London over 17 days beginning in
July, nearly 50 hours more than NBC’s 225 hours of
coverage during the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.

And with another 5,300 hours of Olympics coverage
via NBC-owned cable channels, as well as
online and mobile streams, the games will pose a
threat to cable’s recent gold-standard household share.

Undaunted, cable-network executives said they will put
their best foot forward and run their top scripted and reality
series, specials and original movies up against the Olympics.

All in all, it’s shaping up to be a great summer for viewers to
stay indoors, in front of their big-screen TVs.

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