TBS Tops November Ratings Race


Strong performances by hit theatrical films helped TBS Superstation top Lifetime Television as the No.1-rated network in primetime during November.

Nickelodeon, meanwhile, continued to dominate the total-day ratings, finishing first for a 74th consecutive month, according to a Turner Entertainment Research analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

Bolstered by strong performances from such movies as Lethal Weapon 4, Fire Down Below
and Pretty Woman, TBS averaged a 2.0 household rating (up 5 percent from November 2000), edging Lifetime's 1.9 mark (up 19 percent) for the period spanning Oct. 29 through Nov. 25

Lifetime, however, remains poised to wear the 2001 primetime crown. With one month to go, Lifetime has averaged a year-to-date 2.0 rating— significantly ahead of the 1.7 number posted by Cartoon Network, USA Network and TBS Superstation for the first 11 months of the year.

Despite falling from first place, Lifetime senior vice president of research Tim Brooks said the women's network was able to improve on its ratings from last year because it decided to program aggressively against broadcasters during sweeps month. During sweeps periods, some cable networks run repeats against top programming fare from the broadcast networks, but Brooks said Lifetime — along with several other cable services — offered first-run episodes of series, as well as original movies.

"We decided not to give up the fight against the broadcast networks during sweeps; and that allowed us to keep up our momentum," Brooks said.

Brooks also said strong showings from such networks as TV Land (0.8, up 33 percent) and Hallmark Channel (0.4, up 33 percent) indicated that viewers sought familiar and relaxing programming as the country's war on terrorism continued to dominate the news channels.

ESPN's National Football League telecasts — led by the Nov. 25 Chicago Bears-Minnesota Vikings game — took the top three programming spots in November, helping the network to a third-place primetime finish with a 1.8 rating.

USA (1.7, flat), Nick (1.5, down 6 percent), Cartoon (1.5, off 12 percent), Turner Network Television (1.5, even), Fox News Channel (1.3, flat), Cable News Network (1.2, a 25 percent falloff), Discovery Channel (1.0, a 9 percent decrease), A&E Network (1.0, a 23 percent drop) and TNN: The National Network (1.0, down 9 percent) rounded out the top 10, according to Nielsen.

Among other networks that posted significant primetime gains in November: Black Entertainment Television (0.6, up 20 percent), ESPN2 and Food Network (both up 25 percent to a 0.5) and Bravo (0.3, ahead 50 percent).

On a 24-hour basis, Lifetime finished second behind Nickelodeon with a 1.2 rating, while TBS and Cartoon Network tied for third at a 1.1, according to Nielsen.

CNN (0.9), TNT, USA, ESPN and Fox News (all at a 0.8) and A&E (0.7) followed closely behind.

On the cable-news front, FNC's 1.3 rating bested CNN's 1.2, MSNBC's 0.7 and CNBC's 0.4 rating in primetime during November.

None of the news networks posted gains over last year, when the protracted presidential-election debacle dominated news headlines.

CNN's Nov. 12 coverage of the American Airlines plane crash in New York City represented three of the top 10 rated shows for the month. A quartet of World Wrestling Federation Entertainment programs, which aired on TNN, rounded out the top 10.

TBS also swept the primetime and total-day races among adults 18 through 49 and 25 through 54. During November, TBS averaged 1.3 million viewers in primetime and 658,000 on a 24-hour basis.

ESPN (1.02 million), USA (935,000), TNT (837,000) Lifetime (761,000) comprised the top 5 primetime list among viewers 18 through 49, while Lifetime (501,000), TNT (459,000), ESPN (446,000) and USA (433,000) followed TBS in total-day.

Among the 25 through 54 set, TBS averaged 1.3 million and 640,000 viewers in the respective classifications, according to Nielsen.