USA Network notched its third-straight quarterly primetime ratings win in 2009, riding the strength of its top-ranked original scripted series to place first among cable networks for the third quarter.
The “characters welcome” network, home of Burn Notice and Royal Pains, averaged a 2.6 household rating, up 18% from the 2.2 rating the network generated during the same period last year, according to Disney-ABC Television Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research ratings.
Disney Channel finished second in primetime for the quarter with a 2.1 rating, up 11% over Q3 2008's 1.9 rating.
Tying for third place, each with a 1.8 rating, were TNT (down 5% from Q3 2008), ESPN and Fox News (both flat.)
USA wasn't the only cable network maintaining a ratings winning streak during third quarter. On a 24-hour basis, Nickelodeon was the most-watched cable network for a mind-boggling 56th consecutive quarter, averaging a flat 1.7 rating.
Several networks set third-quarter ratings records, including Food Network, which posted a 29% increase to a 0.9 rating.
Other networks posting significant ratings increases during the quarter include TLC (0.9, up 29%); Noggin (0.7, up 40%); VH1 (0.6, up 20%); E! and National Geographic Channel (0.5, up 25%); GSN and WE TV (0.4, up 33%); BBC America (0.2, up 100%); and Disney XD and History International (0.2, up 50%).
Cable networks that struggled during the quarter include CNN (0.8, down 27%); Spike TV (0.7, down 22%); Animal Planet and Headline News (0.4, down 20%); and The Weather Channel (0.2, down 33%).
ESPN's NFL Monday Night Football telecasts dominated the top spots among the most watched shows list for the quarter, taking three of the top five slots. The sports network's Sept. 21 Indianapolis Colts-Miami Dolphins telecast drew 14.7 million viewers, topped only by the 15.7 million viewers garnered by the Sept. 28 Dallas Cowboys-Carolina Panthers contest as the most-watched cable show of the year.