USA Retains Ratings Crown in First Quarter


USA Network didn’t suffer any
royal viewership pains during first-quarter 2011
as the king of primetime cable networks topped
all comers in total viewers during the first three
months of the year.

USA’s 19th consecutive
quarter win among adsupported
networks helped
the cable industry post
a decisive victory over
the broadcast networks
in the household share
race during the period
from Dec. 27, 2010, to
March 27, according to
a Disney-ABC Television
Group analysis of
Nielsen data.

Ad-supported cable topped the 60-share
mark for the first time, a 5% increase over the
57 share generated during first-quarter 2010,
according to Nielsen.

The broadcast networks saw their primetime
share decline 11% to a 34 share.

USA, the most watched ad-supported
entertainment-based cable network for five
years running, finished the quarter averaging
3 million viewers on the strength of hit
shows such as Royal Pains, White Collar and
Fairly Legal. Disney Channel finished second
with 2.6 million watchers.

ESPN finished third with a network record
of 2.4 million viewers, while TNT averaged
2.1 million viewers, and both History and
Fox News Channel posted 1.9 million viewer
numbers for the quarter.

FX, A&E Network and TBS (tied with 1.6 million);
Nick at Nite (1.5 million); and MTV (1.4
million) rounded out the top 10.

Nickelodeon was the most watched network
over a 24-hour period for the 64th straight quarter,
averaging 2.2 million
viewers, followed
by Disney Channel (1.6
million viewers); Nick at
Nite (1.5 million); ESPN
(1.4 million); and USA
(1.3 million).

A number of networks
posted strong
viewership performances
during the
quarter, including History,
which rode strong
performances by its reality
hits Pawn Stars
and American Pickers
to a network record 30%
year-to-year increase to
1.9 million viewers.

Other networks posting
audience increases
of 30% or more during
the quarter included
Mun2 (93,000 viewers,
up 69%); MTV (1.4 million
viewers, up 57%);
Investigation Discovery
(576,000, up 57%);
Nicktoons (284,000,
up 37%); BBC America
(197,000, up 37%); TV
Land (943,000, up 35%);
ESPN (2.4 million, up
31%); and DIY (122,000,
up 31%).

Networks that struggled
during the quarter
included Fuse (47,000 viewers, down 27%);
HLN (363,000, down 27%); CNBC (265,000,
down 23%); G4 (124,000, down 21%); and VH1
(509,000, down 21%).