Summer Keeps on Sizzling


The ratings beat goes on for cable’s original scripted series.

Several new shows and two veterans made auspicious ratings debuts over the past week during a summer full of hot original cable programming.

Lifetime’s new Sunday-night dramas Side Order of Life and State of Mind got off to solid starts, combining with hit series Army Wives to set a record for freshman dramas.

Both Side Order of Life, which follows the life of photojournalist coming to grips with her best friend’s cancer diagnosis and State of Mind — about a brilliant psychiatrist whose own personal problems rival those of her patients — notched 2.1 household ratings averages in their 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. debuts July 15, attracting 2.4 million and 2.3 million viewers, respectively.


In conjunction with Army Wives, which marched to a season-high 3.3 household rating in its seventh week, the Lifetime originals averaged a 2.5 rating, according to Nielsen Media Research data. Lifetime officials said the performances marked the first time in ad-supported-cable history three freshman dramas scored household marks of more than 2.0.

While viewership numbers for Side Order of Life and State of Mind fell well short of those for Army Wives, Lifetime Networks president of entertainment Susanne Daniels said she’s more than satisfied with the results.

“I honestly feel momentum and a rising tide for Lifetime,” she said. “Having these new series on and being able to promote our new movies within them is thrilling for the network.”

Also on the new series front, TBS’ July 17 premiere of its comedy series The Bill Engvall Show drew 3.9 million viewers, the third-highest ever for a cable original scripted comedy behind the 5.8 million and 5.6 million viewers culled by July 6 two-episode premiere of TBS’ House of Payne, said the network.

ABC Family’s new drama series Greek nearly held on to the audience from its lead-in Kyle XY in posting respectable numbers. The July 9 debut of the 10-episode series that examines collegiate fraternity-sorority life at a fictional university drew a 0.9 rating and 1 million viewers. The program grew 9% to 1.2 million viewers with its second episode premiere July 16.


USA Network’s Friday-night pairing of Monk and Psych notched strong ratings performances. The venerable Monk, starring Tony Shalhoub in his sixth season as the obsessive-compulsive detective, drew 4.8 million viewers during its July 13 9 p.m. debut, slightly below the 5 million viewers the series drew in its July 2006 fifth-season debut and its average for that campaign.

At 10 p.m. that night, Psych, about a quirky sleuth who bamboozles authorities into believing he has psychic powers, garnered 4.3 million viewers in its sophomore-season debut, well off the 6 million viewers it earned for its series premiere last July. The performance, though, beat the 4.1 million the dramedy averaged during its freshman season premieres.

“Given the unbelievably competitive environment this summer, we consider it a major victory to have re-launched these two hit shows to virtually the same ratings as last year,” USA executive vice president of programming Jeff Wachtel said. “Monk has been and continues to be a consistent market leader — one of the most successful shows in the history of cable television. Psych, in its second season, shows the promise of being another long-term success.”