Turner Network Television and Nickelodeon emerged from the dog days of August to finish atop the respective monthly primetime and total-day ratings races.
TNT, on the strength of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing and acquired skeins such as Law and Order, finished first in primetime from July 25 to Aug. 31, with a 2.2 household average — a 15% gain from August 2002, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.
TNT fought off a charging Disney Channel, which boosted its year-to-year ratings by 43% en route to a 2.0 average in August. Lifetime Television (1.8, down 14 %) finished third, while Nickelodeon (flat) and Cartoon Network (up 6%) were tied for fourth, each with a 1.7 mark.
Rounding out the top 10: USA Network (1.6, down 5%); TBS Superstation (1.5, even); ESPN (1.3, down 18%); and, tied at a 1.2, Fox News Channel (up 20%) and A&E Network (up 9%).
Nickelodeon continued its dominance of the total-day tally, averaging a 1.4 rating — barely besting fellow kids-targeted networks Cartoon Network and Disney, which tied with a 1.3 apiece.
Lifetime (1.2), TNT (1.1), TBS (0.9), USA and Fox News (tied with a 0.8), ESPN (0.7), and TLC, Discovery Channel, MTV and A&E (all tied with a 0.6) broke into the top 10.
TNT drew the most viewers aged 18 to 49 and 25 to 54 in primetime and total-day during the month. TBS Superstation, however, took top honors in total-day viewing among 18-to-34 viewers.
MTV: Music Television, riding the success of its Aug. 28 MTV Music Awards
telecast, easily beat out TNT among viewers 18-34 in primetime.
On the cable-news front, Fox News Channel continued to lead the pack. The network averaged a 1.2 in primetime, well ahead of CNN (0.8, even), MSNBC (0.3, down 25% ) and CNBC (0.2, flat).
Several networks posted strong primetime August numbers, including Court TV, which set a record with a 0.9 average up 13% over August 2002.
Other outstanding performances were turned in by Bravo, whose hit series Queer Eye For The Straight Guy
helped propel it to a 0.7, a 75% primetime jump; Animal Planet (0.6, up 20%), Country Music Television (0.4, up 33%); FX (0.9, up 29%); Travel Channel (0.5, up 67%) and The Weather Channel (0.3, up 50%).
Networks suffering August doldrums included: TV Land (0.7, down 22%); WE: Women's Entertainment (0.2, down 33%); Game Show Network (0.3, down 40%); E! Entertainment Television (0.5, down 29%); and ABC Family (0.7, down 13%).
The 2003 Video Music Awards
outpaced all other basic-cable network shows during the month with an 8.1 rating, off slightly from the 8.3 the show delivered the prior year.
Original movies from TBS Superstation (Red Water) and Disney Channel (Cheetah Girls), as well as Spike TV's World Wrestling Entertainment shows and TNT's NASCAR events, made up the bulk of the month's top 10-rated shows.