Although Turner Network Television and USA Network wound up tying for first place in the first-quarter primetime ratings, TNT had 3,000 more households and USA claimed bragging rights for the most actual viewers.
For the quarter, which ended Sunday, TNT and USA both scored 2.1 household ratings, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data released Tuesday.
But it was a razor-close competition. TNT actually racked up more households than USA, with 1.831 million compared with USA’s 1.828 million. But USA -- which crowed that it was the "most-watched network on basic cable" -- nudged ahead of TNT in terms of viewers 2 years and older. USA had 2.426 million viewers versus 2.41 million for TNT.
USA’s primetime ratings for the quarter shot up 31% compared with the year-ago period, while TNT was up 5%.
TNT had boasting rights for key demographics. In primetime, it was No. 1 in the delivery of adults 18-49 and 25-54, according to Nielsen.
In primetime, TNT and USA were followed by Nickelodeon with a 2.0 rating, up 6% from a year ago. Then came Disney Channel with a 1.7, up 6%; TBS Superstation with a 1.6, flat; Lifetime Television with a 1.5, down 12%; Cartoon Network with a 1.4, flat; and Fox News Channel and ESPN, each with a 1.2, with Fox News down 40% and ESPN up 20%.
The all-news channels were all down dramatically this year since they did not have the benefit of last year’s highly watched coverage of the war in Iraq. Cable News Network dropped 50% to a 0.7, while MSNBC slipped 57% to a 0.3.
The biggest gains in primetime were: Bravo, up 67% to a 0.5; SoapNet, up 50% to a 0.6; National Geographic Channel and Speed Channel, each up 50% to a 0.3; and ABC Family, up 33% to a 0.8.
In total-day for the first quarter, Nick was No. 1 with a 1.7, up 6%. Nick was followed by TNT and Disney, each with a 1.2. TNT was up 9%, while Disney was up 20%.