USA Edges Disney in 2Q Primetime-Ratings Race

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USA Network was tops in the primetime ratings in the second quarter, a hair ahead of Disney Channel.

USA, with a boost from The Starter Wifeand wrestling, posted a 2.1 household rating, down 5% compared with a 2.2 for the same period last year, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks analysis of Nielsen Media Research data released Tuesday.

Following close behind in second place was Disney with a 2.0, which slipped 5% from last year. The June 24 episode of Hannah Montanawas the third-highest-rated program in all of basic cable in the second quarter.

TNT placed third in primetime household ratings with a 1.9, down 14% from last year’s 2.2. A contributing factor for TNT’s ratings decline was a drop-off for its National Basketball Association playoff coverage, which was down 12% compared with last year. Nonetheless, TNT’s June 2 NBA playoff game between the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers was the second-highest-rated basic-cable program in the quarter.

TNT’s The Closer performed strong, with its third-season premiere setting a record as ad-supported cable’s most-watched series telecast of all time among overall viewers, 8.8 million, and households, 6.4 million.

TBS and Fox News Channel tied for fourth place, each with a 1.3 rating. TBS saw a 7% dip while Fox News was up 8%.

And there was a three-way tie between Lifetime Television, ESPN and Cartoon Network, which each garnered a 1.2 rating. Lifetime saw an 8% decrease, while both ESPN and Cartoon dropped 14%. Like TNT, ESPN’s overall primetime ratings took a hit because the NBA playoffs didn’t perform so well this year, down 27%.

Nick at Nite and A&E Network posted a 1.1 rating each. Nick at Nite was off 21% while A&E was up a whopping 38%.

And six networks averaged a 1.0 primetime rating in the second quarter -- Discovery Channel, Spike TV, FX, Court TV, Sci Fi Channel and Hallmark Channel. Discovery was up 11%; Spike down 9%; FX down 9%; Court up 25%; Sci Fi up 11%; and Hallmark saw a 9% dip.

Among the all-news channels, CNN was flat with a 0.7. But CNN Headline News was up 33% to a 0.4, while MSNBC was up a sizable 67% to a 0.5.

Some of the biggest second-quarter gainers were Fuse, up 100% to a 0.1, and Military Channel, up 100% to a 0.2. ESPN Classic saw a 50% decrease to a 0.1.

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