USA Network continued its basic-cable ratings' domination, garnering the most viewers during the third quarter, according to Nielsen data.
The "Characters Welcome" network averaged 3.5 million viewers during the period of June 27 to Sept. 25 to capture its 21st consecutive primetime quarterly ratings win among entertainment-based networks, according to Nielsen. (USA's quarterly ratings streak does not take into account sports network ESPN's five consecutive years of fourth quarter wins, due mainly to its high-rated Monday Night Football telecasts, or ad-free Disney Channel's third-quarter 2007 win, supported by the network's 18 million viewer premiere for original movie High School Musical 2.)
USA outlasted Disney Channel, which finished second in the race with 2.6 million viewers, down 5% from the third quarter 2010 and TNT, which experienced a 2% audience decline in averaging 2.5 million viewers.
History posted a 19% year-to-year quarter increase to finish fourth with 2.0 million viewers, while ESPN garnered 1.9 million viewers - down 12% from last year - to finish fifth, according to Nielsen.
Fox News Channel (1.9 million viewers, up 4%); A&E (1.6 million, up 8%); FX (1.4 million, up 14%); Syfy (1.2 million, up 12%) and ABC Family (1.4 million, up 4%) rounded out the top 10.
Nickelodeon made it 66 straight quarterly ratings wins over a 24-hour period, averaging 2.1 million viewers, although that was down 5% from 3rd quarter 2010. Following Nickelodeon was Disney Channel (1.8 million, down 4%); USA (1.4 million, up 5%); Adult Swim (1.3 million, up 16%) and Nick At Nite (1.2 million, down 22%), said Nielsen.