Lifetime Television won July's primetime cable-network ratings race, but it slipped for the first time this year, thanks to strong competition from USA Network and Turner Network Television.
Lifetime averaged a 2.0 rating for July 1 through July 28, according to Turner Entertainment Research's analysis of Nielsen Media Research figures. The women's network has finished first in each month of 2002, but dipped 5 percent for the first month this year.
With Dead Zone
staying strong — and the launch of quirky detective series Monk
— USA averaged a 1.9 rating, up 12 percent from a year ago, according to Nielsen. USA took top honors in two key demographics: adults 18 to 49 and adults 25 to 54.
Turner Network Television, with an impressive 4.8 rating for its original film Door to Door, was third with a 1.8, up 13 percent.
Collectively, basic cable's summer surge continued, as the medium notched a 7.6 percent rise in primetime ratings to a 28.3 average in July, according to a Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau analysis of Nielsen data.
Basic cable also scored an 8.6 percent increase in share, to a 53.3, and an 11.2 percent advance in delivery, to nearly 29.9 million households.
The seven broadcast networks suffered a 10.8 percent decline, to a weighted 19.7 primetime rating, a 10 percent decrease to a 37.1 share and a 7.9 percent falloff in delivery, to 20.8 million households.
In terms of individual primetime performances, TBS Superstation (flat) and Nickelodeon (down 6 percent) tied for fourth at a 1.7, followed by Cartoon Network's 1.6 (off 6 percent).
A&E (off 8 percent), ESPN (up 22 percent) and Fox News Channel (ahead 38 percent) were knotted at a 1.1.
There was a logjam for the final spot in the top 10, at a 0.9 average: Cable News Network and FX (both up 29 percent), MTV: Music Television, Sci Fi Channel (13 percent apiece), Discovery Channel (down 25 percent) and TNN: The National Network (off 10 percent).
Elsewhere, in the cable-news sector, MSNBC — which bowed its highly publicized reformatted primetime lineup in mid-month — could only match last year's 0.4 rating for all of July.
CNN Headline News (flat) and CNBC (down 50 percent) finished with 0.2 averages in primetime.
ESPN's coverage of Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby
on July 8 was the medium's highest-rated show, with a 6.1.
TNT held the next four positions, with a trio of auto racing shows and Door to Door, which finished third overall with a 4.8 during its July 14 premiere.