USA, Sci Fi Shows Hit Marks

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Bidders for Vivendi Universal Entertainment might have been encouraged by recent ratings performances from USA Network and Sci Fi Channel's highly touted original series.

The June 20 premiere of USA's drama Monk
set a series ratings record, while Sci Fi Channel's Stargate SG-1
is off to a blazing start in its second season on the network. Additionally, Sci Fi reality entries Scare Tactics
and Tremors
maintained decent ratings marks after returning to the air following a nearly two-month hiatus.

Monk, starring Tony Shalhoub as an obsessive-compulsive detective, drew a 4.1 household rating, up 18% from the 3.5 rating the premiere series generated last July 12, network officials said.

The 4.1 mark is also the best-ever rating for the sophomore series, besting a 3.7 for a July 26 episode.

Monk's initial performance is encouraging for USA, which saw ratings drop for the second season of its other popular original, Dead Zone. It averaged a 2.3 rating since premiering 12 shows in January, down from a 3.1 rating over its freshman run. Another seven are on tap, beginning July 6.

Monk
finished 2002 as cable's highest-rated original series last season with a 3.3 rating. It also was the first scripted cable series to be repurposed on broadcast television when ABC picked up episodes last summer.

A spokesman said ABC hasn't made any decisions on whether to air Monk's second-season shows.

For Sci Fi, Stargate SG-1
has performed well. The show's season-seven premiere (its first five were on Showtime), earned a 1.9 household rating on June 13, the best ever for a Sci Fi series. A 1.8 average followed on June 20. Last season, Stargate
averaged a 1.7 household rating for 22 episodes.

Sci Fi's reality series Scare Tactics
maintained its ratings performance after a five-week hiatus. The show averaged a 1.1 rating in its June 20 return after being "rested" since May 9. After debuting April 4 with a 1.5 rating, the 30-minute, hidden-camera skein, hosted by Shannen Doherty, saw its ratings tail off to 1.1 over the next five shows.

Sci Fi's other freshman series, Tremors
— pulled from the schedule in April after five weeks — also posted a 1.1 average in its June 20 return. It averaged a 1.34 rating during its run from March 28 through April 25.

A spokeswoman said Sci Fi made a "strategic decision" to pull both series in May so it would have more original episodes to run this summer.

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