Cable posts summer gains

Sep 3, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Advertising-supported cable’s summertime growth rate is nearly back up to pre-“Survivor” and “Millionaire” levels, while Lifetime Television continues to have the time of its ratings life this summer.
Ad-supported cable’s aggregate prime-time household rating for the summer was 26.7, up 9.4 percent from last year’s 24.4, according to Lifetime research. That is akin to the summertime cable growth rate of the late 1990s, before Regis and reality revived the broadcast networks from their usual hot-weather ratings swoon.
Lifetime not only remained atop the basic-cable prime-time household Nielsens, with a 2.1 rating in its universe for the period from May 28 to Aug. 26, but it and TNN were the only two top-10 ad-supported cable networks to show year-to-year growth in prime-time households during the summer months.
Beyond the performances of Lifetime and TNN, much of the rest of cable’s overall summer growth was tallied by branded, targeted niche networks such as History Channel, SoapNet and the Game Show Network, said Tim Brooks, senior VP of research, Lifetime Television.
Lifetime was up 24 percent over 2000 for the three summer months. TNN, though in 10th place in the overall prime-time household network rankings, tying ESPN with a 1.0 rating, increased its prime-time household ratings for the summer by 67 percent over summer 2000.
That TNN increase was at least partly attributable to the young-male demo that followed the World Wrestling Federation from USA Network to TNN.
Even without the WWF, USA managed to tie with Cartoon Network for second place in prime-time households, notching a 1.8 rating, just ahead of TBS and Nickelodeon, both of which posted a 1.7 rating in their respective universes. On a comparative basis, USA was down steeply from last summer, when it led or tied the cable pack in households; this summer it was off its 2000 pace by 18 percent.
When it came to delivering adults 18 to 49 in prime time this past summer, however, USA edged out TBS to lead the category; in the 25 to 54 age group, USA was in second place, just behind TNT. Household leader Lifetime was in fourth place in both demos.
How important the WWF was to TNN this summer is apparent from the list of the five highest-ranked individual cable programs. Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” special led the household ratings with a 7.2, and TBS’s showing of the “Rush Hour” theatrical was in third place with a 5.9. The remaining three of the top five were showings of TNN’s “WWF Raw Is War.”
In sixth place on the household-ratings list was TNT’s debut of Part 1 of “Mists of Avalon,” with a 5.6 rating, making it the highest-rated original cable movie or miniseries of the summer.
When it comes to those 18- to 49-year-old adults so prized by advertisers, “Rush Hour” clocked in with first place, followed by five individual editions of TNN’s “WWF Raw Is War.” The seventh-most-popular program with adults 18 to 49 this summer was the “MTV Movie Awards” telecast.
Year-to-year prime-time summer household ratings and percentages for the other top 10 cable networks, according to Lifetime research: Cartoon Network, down 5 percent, from 1.9 in the summer of 2000 to 1.8 in the summer of 2001; USA, down 18 percent, from 2.2 to 1.8; Nickelodeon, flat at 1.7; TBS, down 15 percent, from 2.0 to 1.7; Disney Channel, down 6 percent, from 1.6 to 1.5; A&E, down 7.0 percent, from 1.4 to 1.3; Discovery, flat at 1.2; ESPN, down 9 percent, from 1.1 to 1.0.