TNT rode its original series to the top of the third-quarter primetime ratings charts, the second straight quarterly win for the drama network.
TNT, whose second-quarter win broke USA Network’s record of 31 straight winning quarters dating back to the mid-2000s, made it two in a row by averaging 2.2 million viewers (down 3% from Q3 2013) during the period of June 30 to Sept. 28, according to Nielsen ratings figures. TNT was paced by strong performances from established original series Major Crimes and Rizzoli & Isles, as well as new series The Last Ship.
USA finished second, averaging 2.1 million viewers, which was off 23% from the same period last year. Helped by strong performances from WWE Monday Night Raw and Suits, USA took the top spot among entertainment networks in key demos, including adults 18-49, adults 25-54 and adults 18-34, according to Nielsen.
Disney Channel finished third among all basic-cable networks, averaging 1.9 million viewers, down 24% from last year, followed by ESPN (down 8%) and Fox News Channel (up 11%), which tied with 1.8 million viewers each, according to Nielsen.
History fell 16% from Q3 2013 in finishing fifth, with 1.7 million viewers, while TBS (1.6 million viewers, down 12%), HGTV (1.4 million, up 8%), FX (1.3 million, down 2%), Discovery Channel (1.3 million, down 1%) and A&E Network (1.2 million, down 32%) rounded out the top 10.
On a 24-hour basis, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon finished in a virtual tie, both averaging 1.4 million viewers and both falling off 20% from the same period last year. Adult Swim (1.1 million viewers, down 9%) finished third, while USA lost 11% of its audience, Cartoon Network broken even and Fox News was up 2% as the three networks tied with 1.0 million viewers.
On the cable news front, Fox News continued its dominance of the category, averaging 1.8 million viewers to top all comers. CNN barely nipped MSNBC for second-place honors, with CNN posting a 3% increase to 562,000 viewers and MSNBC dropping 4% to 561,000 watchers, according to Nielsen. HLN finished fourth with 357,000 viewers, which was down 3% from last year.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football games and its July 1 FIFA World Cup telecast represented the top five most-watched shows during the quarter, with a Sept. 9 episode of FX’s drama series Sons of Anarchy, MTV’s Aug. 24 Video Music Awards telecast and three summer episodes of TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles making up the top 10 shows for the quarter, according to Nielsen.